Some of the business owners renting shops in Ballina's Wigmore Arcade.
Some of the business owners renting shops in Ballina's Wigmore Arcade. The Northern Star

Wave of tough times has shops floundering

A SURF shop in the heart of Ballina seemed like a good idea three years ago.

But increases in Ken Storck's rent totalling 67 per cent in that time have crippled the owner of Hype Surf Co. in River Street.

The rent rises are bad enough, but having to cope with that, a slow tourist year and competition from a new shopping centre has been hard.

“From 2005 to now it's been a 67 per cent increase and in that time the economy's gone down and people have stopped spending,” he said.

“I don't mind paying a fair dollar for what I've got, but it's a Byron Bay rate and we don't have anywhere near the tourism or the turnover.

“To have to deal with this in a really repressed economy, and the fact we had six months of rain and a fish kill, it's been really, really tough.

“I've had to lay off staff and now they're not spending at other businesses, it's a vicious cycle.

“To relocate from here would cost me $30,000 to $40,000 to refit another shop and I haven't got the dough. I've only been doing this for three years. I had never owned a business before.

“I'm basically here until I get myself back on track.”

Hype Surf Co. is in Wigmore Arcade, which is owned by Ballina Shire Council, along with 21 other businesses whose five-year leases expired last December.

Ballina Council General Manager Paul Hickey said all the businesses had a rental market appraisal at that time.

“As part of the negotiations for the new leases, council engages an independent valuer to look at what the market rents are,” Mr Hickey said.

“As a landlord and government authority we need to get that independent advice.”

Ballina Elders Director Lynne Yaldwyn said commercial rents varied dramatically depending on location, size and condition of the property and valuers came up with figures by comparing similar properties.

“They're all so different. If he has had a huge increase the valuer would have done his homework around town, because we do get calls quite regularly,” she said.

“The rents have gone up a fair bit in the last few months, five years ago they were a lot cheaper.

“And the main CBD area is prime real estate.”



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