A popular speciality store is the latest bricks and mortar business to face Wagga’s retail grim reaper.
With Pizzazz this week announced it would be shutting its doors for good, following more than 12 years of trading on Baylis Street.
It follows a mass exodus of Wagga's Baylis Street retailers across 12 months.
Co-owner Tony Carlin said he and his wife Bronwyn had noted at least five neighbouring stores had either moved or shut up shop within that period.
“That’s just half of one side of this block,” Mr Carlin said. “Stores have to make a hard decision about whether they can make a living or not.”
He said a number of factors together, had contributed to what felt like a never-ending downward spiral in a “sad reality”.
Mr Carlin said reduced pedestrian traffic on the main street, online competition and poor parking had contributed to stores’ decisions to pack up and move on.
He said less and less people walked the main street, preferring instead to shop at Sturt Mall and Market Place.
The Wagga businessman gestured to an almost empty footpath as he described the changes he had experienced across many years in the retail industry.
He said he had earned double his current takings when he had operated a store on a Wagga side street in 1983.
“It is the worst it’s ever been,” Mr Carlin said. “And it is not getting better.”
Mr Carlin said the small business would continue expanding “with Pizzazz” online but he said it would not be the same.
“Our customers loved spend a few relaxing moments browsing or having a chat,” he said. “You just can’t replace that.”
Outdoor and recreational equipment retailer Mountain Designs also shut its Baylis Street store this month, following an announcement the chain was battling a tough retail environment across the country.
The 42-year-old business confirmed it would be closing one-in-three of its 39 brick-and-mortar stores, and it is not the only retail chain struggling to keep its smaller businesses above water.
It follows last year’s closure of Thomas Jewellers, after more than 13 years of operation.
Wagga Business Chamber president Danielle Pascoe said the increased number of stores shutting their doors had not gone unnoticed.
“It is disappointing,” Ms Pascoe said. “There are always going to be certain parts of the sector thriving while others struggle.”
Ms Pascoe said a combined effort was needed to address the concerns across the city.
“Wagga members and organisations – like us – representing the needs of small businesses need to get together and work though what the issues are,” she said.