Businesses slam 'blow-in traders'
THEY move into town for a few days or a week, boasting cheap goods and big sales.
But some Grafton businesses are concerned that the “blow-in traders” seen in town recently are having a negative impact on both the local economy and the community.
From Saturday to Monday, a large bra, underwear and swimwear sale moved into the Grafton Showground Pavilion, the first of its kind seen in the area.
A few weeks earlier, a clothing sale filled the Mid-City Ford building on Victoria Street.
Noel Smith, the owner of Prince Street business Low Pressure Surf Co, said the visiting wholesalers posed a number of threats.
“Where does that money go that’s spent with those traders?” Mr Smith asked.
“Do they support local charities or sports? Do they support youth of the area with jobs or training programs?
“The answer to all of that is ‘No’. These are the things that point to why people should think twice about shopping with blow-in traders, versus local businesses.”
Mr Smith said the other major problem was the lack of recourse for shoppers if the goods they purchased were faulty, as the traders do not stay on in town.
However, the travelling retailer who ran the weekend’s sale, Gary Lockwood, said the businesses complaining were “self-centred”.
“The buying public have a right to this stock,” Mr Lockwood said.
“A lot of the stuff we sell is outside the range catered for in Grafton. We offer the public discounted prices, and also in a lot of cases we offer a lot of sizes not available in rural towns – from 6As up to 28Hs.
“The effect on the local economy is minimal.”
Mr Lockwood said everyone who purchased an item was informed of the returns policy, which he confirmed only applied until close-of-business Monday.
“We offer a cash refund or exchange,” he said. “We’re not there to run away.”
Mr Lockwood said he employed two Grafton women to assist at the weekend’s sale, who will be joining him at his upcoming sales throughout rural NSW.
But Carmell Sanne, owner of the Hope Chest on Prince Street, said it was not just bra retailers like her who would feel the impacts of sales like that seen on the weekend.
“It’s everyone,” Mrs Sanne said.
“The money is going out of town – it’s not circulating. There’s going to be a flow-on effect.”
Owner of Grafton Surf Co Jodie Dixon agreed, stating that times were tough for local businesses as it was.
“We’re struggling enough as it is,” Mrs Dixon said.
“If council can’t stop them [the traders] coming into town, then take a percentage of their profits to go towards local charities or sporting clubs rather than letting them just take the money out of Grafton and leaving.
“Now they’ve done it once or twice they’ll think this is an easy target.”
However, Grafton Showground secretary Sue Patricks said the Show Society needed to lease the pavilion to pay for the barn’s ongoing upkeep.
“The lease to the pavilion is open to anyone,” Mrs Patricks said.
“We’re struggling to lease it out. It [the weekend sale] helps us out. We’ve got to try to get money to pay for its maintenance.”