IF YOU have a Big Prawn souvenir, hang on to it, is the tip from Shane Kermode.
Mrs Kermode has owned the Aussie Gift Shop, selling gifts and Big Prawn souvenirs under the giant crustacean in Ballina, since 1992.
But she has been running businesses under the Prawn since 1991, when she owned an ice-cream shop, buying into the tourist stop-over after it was built in 1990.
Now her business is the last under the Big Prawn itself, and she will be moving out this weekend, relocating to the Boulevard in River Street under the new business name of That’s Different.
“It’s sad,” she said of the move from the Big Prawn.
“I think the Big Prawn has brought more people into town than people in town realise.”
Mrs Kermode said there had been a significant increase in interest in the Big Prawn from passing tourists after it was announced that the Big Prawn could be demolished – even from overseas visitors.
She said many tourists were ‘outraged’ that the Big Prawn was going, and wanted to know why something wasn’t being done about it.
Mrs Kermode said she also understood the reasons why owner Santo Pennisi was demolishing the Big Prawn and the adjacent petrol station and restaurant.
She was there in the Big Prawn’s heyday when the inside of the structure looked like ‘a quaint little fishing village’ and tourists could climb up into the Prawn.
Mrs Kermode admitted that business hadn’t been great in recent years, but said interest in the Big Prawn from passing travellers had never declined.
She said the demolition of the Big Prawn meant an icon for Ballina was being lost and it was the end of an era.
Her store only has a few souvenir Big Prawn caps and wallets left.
The rest of the souvenirs – T-shirts, tea towels, mugs, postcards and more – have all been sold and won’t be made again.
“Everything else has gone,” she said.
Meanwhile, the restaurant at the Big Prawn complex will close on January 24 and the lease on the Caltex service station expires at the end of the month.