Wagga’s business community is calling for more support for emerging businesses in a year that has already seen countless local enterprises forced to close up shop.
This comes as Wagga’s Rollerdome was forced to shut down after only seven months, marking the latest in a string of local businesses that have already closed down this year.
Tim McMullen of Borambola Wines, who also sits on the board of the Wagga Business Chamber, said it would take a whole community effort to help new businesses make it past their first year.
“Sometimes, I find that Wagga people can be very critical about businesses, and that word spreads very quickly,” Mr McMullen said.
“You can afford to stuff things up a little more in the city because of the volume of people coming past your door, but in Wagga, you have to get your offering right very quickly.”
Among the local businesses to already close up shop this year have been PastaCup, Carv’n It Up, Pizzazz, CC Best, Risky Business, and Jump'n'Putt.
While the broader community certainly has a role to play, Mr McMullen also encouraged business owners to begin reaching out to each other to share what they have learnt about operating in Wagga.
“It can be a very lonely world out there if you're doing things by yourself and you're worried you’re not getting it right,” he said.
“Sometimes, little tweaks can make the most difference, but you can’t always see that because you're just so immersed in your own business.”
Someone who understands the challenges facing business owners in Wagga all too well is Jo Palmer.
Ms Palmer has started three of her very own businesses over the last few years; she has since sold off one, and still operates the other two.
The entrepreneur said she has been fortunate in that most of her business ventures have not revolved around a physical space.
“I think you can still sell a physical product online, but when you own a bricks and mortar store, you’re taking a hit to your earnings every month in the form of rent,” Ms Palmer said.
“I started a tutoring business in Turvey Park called The Learning Tree, which was a fabulous little business because the rent was affordable.
“Even though it was definitely not a high earning business, I was able to build it up and sell it on because the rent was affordable.”
Ms Palmer said it might be time to start rethinking how to operate a small business, particularly in terms of space and staffing.
“Staffing is a really big expense that a lot of small businesses underestimate, particularly when you try to hire someone that can be a jack of all trades,” she said.
“What we’ve done is say ‘okay, we have enough money to pay for three days of work a week, so why don’t we hire three different people who specialise in each role’?”
The Wagga Business Chamber encouraged any business owners looking for support to reach out to their team.