By MATT NICHOLLS
STRUGGLING mall retailers in Armidale are considering if this Christmas will be their last in operation after another business bit the dust last week.
Long-time Beardy Street Mall bookstore Dymocks will close after Christmas, the head office revealed.
Graeme Hicks opened the Armidale franchise of Dymocks in December of 1993.
The company’s managing director Steve Cox said he would be missed by the Armidale community.
“Graeme and his team have been passionately supporting the local community for 20 years,” Mr Cox said.
“He is an exceptional bookseller and respected by all the team at Dymocks.”
The other bookstore in the mall could also be nearing the end of its shelf life.
Reader’s Companion is on the market as owners Bill and Yvonne Duhigg ponder retirement.
There are fears that if the business doesn’t sell, it could be closed.
Neighbour Liz Hallam runs Shanti Collections and she said the end of Dymocks and potential closure of Reader’s Companion could be the tipping point.
Closing down sale signs have been up in her own store for months, but Ms Hallam said she was contemplating signing another year on the lease.
However, she said news of the bookstores had her reconsidering.
“Everything is online now. There’s not a lot of reasons for people to come into the mall,” she said.
“People can do their banking and pay their bills on the internet and you can shop online as well.”
Ms Hallam’s business has been running in the mall for eight years and said she had considered going online, but thought her business wouldn’t be suited to the internet.
“All my pieces are one-off items – I can’t buy them in bulk like some retailers,” she said.
“I source them from all over the world, including Italy, Spain and France, and people want to see them before they buy them.”
While many retailers are doing it tough, long-time mall businessman Ed Savage can see light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve got one of the most appealing-looking malls in the country and I think it could turn around,” he said.
“The town itself is not firing on all cylinders at the moment, which is having an affect.”
Mr Savage said he wanted to see the seemingly thriving cafes extend their business hours.
“It doesn’t help business that much when most of the coffee shops are closing in the early afternoon,” he said.
“Come back and take a photo in the mall after 3pm and you’ll be lucky to get anyone in the picture.”
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