Business owners lash out
ROSE City business owners have lashed out at newly-appointed Chamber of Commerce president David Littleproud after his recent comments The Gap closure was “just another sting in the tail for our local businesses doing it tough”.
Samios Mini Mart owner Jim Samios says his business is far from struggling and was outraged at the remarks, encouraging Mr Littleproud to “stop knocking the retailers and get your facts right”.
“He's got no clue about the CBD; he looks after the farms,” Mr Samios said, referring to Mr Littleproud's position as Warwick NAB Agribusiness manager.
Mr Samios said the comments were generating bad publicity for the local area and implied the businesses were “going broke”, which he was adamant was not the case.
“I would love him to walk up the main street and ask the retailers they are criticising,” Mr Samios said.
“We are doing extra well, in capital letters... if we were going broke would we have all of the stock we have got?
“No one has come to speak to me or Joe Coorey (about how we're doing).”
The Coorey's Drapery owner was also quick to dismiss the claim business was slow and said for him, it was booming and was busier this Christmas than he was last year.
“Jimmy (Samios) has been in Warwick 50 years and I have been in this store 57 years and we are not struggling – there's no way,” Mr Coorey said.
Both Mr Coorey and Mr Samios said proof of their prosperity was their regular customers travelling from Toowoomba, Boonah, Brisbane and Goondiwindi to shop in the Rose City.
Toyworld owner Peter Tansky also dismissed the Chamber's claims of a lagging local economy, saying business was “steady” at the moment.
“It's not hectic but I wouldn't say anyone is suffering,” Mr Tansky said.
“The Chamber needs to get the opinion of the businesses in the main street before they waffle on.
“It's typical of the Chamber to go off half-cocked, like they did with seven-day trading.”
When being notified of Mr Samios' concerns yesterday, Mr Littleproud believed the Warwick businessman had misinterpreted the comments intended to be positive.
“He (Mr Samios) may be doing well but there are others who are doing it tough,” Mr Littleproud said.
The Chamber of Commerce president rubbished claims he had not spoken to any local traders about their current financial situation, saying every business was different.
“I have spoken to other retailers – funnily enough I shop here too – and some have said they are not going too well,” Mr Littleproud said.
“It all comes down to the type of product they are selling.”
Meanwhile, Rose City Shoppingworld centre manager Jason Gard said retail figures showed sales had decreased in areas all over Australia.
“It's not just Warwick, the retail market is tight nationally,” Mr Gard said.
“I wouldn't interpret (the comments) as saying that businesses are doing badly; I don't know of anyone who is doing very badly.
“We would always like it to be better but it is just the nature of the industry.”
Mr Littleproud also went a step further by challenging Mr Samios to attend a Chamber meeting, which he says Mr Samios has not done before.