Nearly Two Years at The Store

We have been meaning to write a piece for the community for many months but have been overwhelmed by the huge amount of work and effort that this little business has required, while also raising a young family. What an adventure we have been on over the past couple of years. From purchasing The Store in March 2021 and taking over a few months later, we have overcome many challenges and poured our hearts and souls into improving this business.

So far, we have replaced the rotten kitchen, removed a ridiculous amount of asbestos (discovering an old toilet block in the process), reinstated the toilet block, refashioned the front counter area, painted half the building (difficult job so far with rain, rain, rain), removed the very dangerous dilapidated sheds and tanks, replaced the shed with a very good looking one, resurfaced the car park, replaced the old septic system with a state of the art onsite treatment plant, and have made a start on the outdoor and garden area.

We have also been successful in obtaining our liquor license for on premises consumption between 11AM and 6:30PM. And following this we appointed Sion Harwood who is going to bring our goal of serving dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to life. He is already doing great things with the new pizza oven and has big plans for an Italian style trattoria at The Store.

We will continue to provide a great range of local produce, grocery items, quality take away and giftware. We really love to support our local producers and we’re always on the lookout for great new products. If you see anything you’d like us to stock, drop us a line.

Being the only business in town open to the public is challenging. There are decisions we will make that, hopefully, most will love and others may question.  Change can be hard.

After a year of collecting information about our business, we are able to see where improvements can be made and where we need to focus our energy to drive our financial viability. Winter was a big shock to us last year. We went from a thriving little business that was really kicking goals, to a space that resembled a ghost town. As borders opened and COVID restrictions eased, we all went on holidays and ventured far from the Marsh. This was a wake up call to us and got us thinking about how this business will survive through winters and not just rely on the summer tourist trade. Being agile, open to change and trying new things will help us understand what the community wants. All the decisions we make are with the goal of building a business that we and the community are proud of and being able to offer great employment opportunities to locals.

Historically, the strategy has been to pare it back over winter. This is not the way we want to operate this business. We want it to be financially viable all year round. Having a dinner service three nights a week is how we see this business maintaining its viability beyond peak summer trade. This is why we have applied for an extension on our liquor license. We would like to bring back the ‘locals’ night and we would like to offer a place for people to come and enjoy a quality meal with family and friends.

One part of the business that unfortunately isn’t financially viable is the post office. Most of the postal services we provide relate to mail and parcel collection for residents in the township zone. There isn’t demand for the other services that Australia Post provide, so the revenue we receive from Australia Post is well below the minimum payment for licensed post offices and the costs involved in running it far outweigh this. Therefore, we have met with Australia Post and the decision has been made to end our contractual agreement. We understand that this will be confusing for many people and some may not be pleased with our decision. However, Australia Post will be putting the contract out to tender in the Deans Marsh community and if you think this is the type of business you would like to take on, then they would love to hear from you. If the tender isn’t taken up, then Australia Post will implement a mail delivery service to your residential address. In the meantime, we will continue to provide postal services until alternative arrangements are confirmed by Australia Post. We imagine being able to have a delivery to your house will be very exciting for many residents and we will be pushing hard for this to happen. We also reside in the township zone, so we understand that mail delivery to our kerbsides will be valuable for all of us.

We will continue to make improvements to The Store this year, with plans to create more shade, finish painting the exterior and install a wood fired heater in the tearoom. We will also start work on our kitchen garden next week. We are super excited about this venture, the first step in our long-term vision for an environmentally sustainability operation.

What we really want is a beautiful, warm, and welcome space for the community to gather and enjoy this gem of a business. Our Friday Sundowners have shown us that The Store is a great congregation point for the community to share a pizza and a drink with family and friends. We will continue to do our best to provide this. We hope you will continue to come and support us.

Sincerely,

Virginia & James