Numerous factors lie at the heart of shop closures in Auburn Street.
As such, it would be a mistake to conclude that Goulburn is in the commercial doldrums.
Online shopping, "high rents" and location are all playing a role. In recent months, Ed Harry, The Factorie, Harris Scarfe and the Home Sweet Home store on Hume Street have announced their closures. Several have not explained the reason, leaving many scratching their heads on why, for example, a region the size of Goulburn Mulwaree can't sustain a shop like Harris Scarfe. It has been well patronised but senior management has not fully spelt out the reasons for the pull-out.
But a sluggish retail/commercial sector is not the full story about Goulburn. Plenty of other businesses are moving in, as evidenced by Black Widow Glass at Bradfordville, a poultry processing plant at North Goulburn and Tribe Breweries in the city's south. Other investment opportunities, such as a new $30 million 144-bed aged care facility, are also on the horizon.
On the rural front, land values around Goulburn rose by 16.4 per cent in 2018, according to a recent Rural Bank report. This compared with an average 6.3pc rise across the southeast region.
Clearly, the area's favourable prices and country lifestyle are luring more people.
The sight of empty shops, for whatever reason, certainly doesn't help perceptions but another trend is occurring.
Co-working spaces like The Collective and Workspace are growing in popularity in Goulburn, catering for those who want to cut down the commute. It's little wonder that Mayor Bob Kirk and his colleagues wanted to retain, rather than sell the council's Clinton Street building.
They're ideal incubators for Start-ups. As Liam Duibhir from the Bega Innovation Hub explained at a recent forum, it only takes imagination and a bit of seed funding to make things happen. A tech hub is not out of the question for Goulburn.
Similarly, we can learn lessons from Moss Vale Chamber of Commerce's push to reinvigorate its CBD. Shopfronts could be made available to boutique businesses on a 30-day lease period, as a prelude to more permanent occupation. The council is also doing its bit by encouraging shop owners to apply for grants to paint faded facades.
The retail sector may be experiencing challenges but Goulburn Mulwaree remains a vibrant place to live.
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