Save us, shop local Kogarah shopkeepers plea

Seeeking support: Shopkpeepers at Railway Parade, Kogarah say conditions have never been as bad. Picture: Chris Lane
Seeeking support: Shopkpeepers at Railway Parade, Kogarah say conditions have never been as bad. Picture: Chris Lane

The message from Kogarah business-owners is loud and clear - save us and shop local.

Businesses in the Kogarah CBD are struggling as customers stay away because of the coronavirus emergency.

"The overall feeling of shopkeepers is one of uncertainty," said Megan Barker of Aangela's Florist in Railway Parade.

"The radio is putting fear into people and causing panic buying.

"Instead of panic buying at supermarkets and stockpiling people need to shop local. This is the time to support local businesses. We don't want money. We just want business.

"My mother suggested we started a GoFundMe page not asking for money but appealing for customers because that is what will keep us going."

Ian Kokos has run his business Kokos Hair Studio on Railway Parade for 40 years.

"I have never seen it as quiet," he said.

"Business is down 50 to 60 per cent in the last two weeks. On Tuesday not a soul walked into my shop. I usually average eight to ten people on that day.

Sue Heszberger, owner of jewellery business Diamon Co on Railway Parade said conditions are exceptionally tough.

"We are not getting any customers," she said. "No one is walking in. The only ones coming in are existing customers who have a lay-by.

"It's normally a steady time of year but it has never been as quiet. We have been in business 38 years and it has never been as bad."

Lucy Youn of Tomo Sushi said, "There has been a dramatic slowdown from last week. It's never been as quiet. We will have to lay off staff."

Hugo Yang of Hong Kong Noodle King said he has never seen business conditions as bad.

"We have been here for four years and are noticing a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in business," Hugo said. "It started around a month ago ago and it keeps going down every day."

Mal Williams opened the doors of his Nutrition Hub two weeks ago and has the official opening today.

"We don't really know what to expect as we haven't got enough experience to gauge it on but locals are saying business is down 50 per cent."

Gay Chanpeach of Sumbaijai Thai confirmed that business is down about 50 per cent.

"We are takeaway and rely on the lunchtime trade and many people are now working from home," she said,

Matt Nankaki of Memento Cafe called on the government to do more.

"We are not beggars. We are not blaming the government. We understand. The government is in shock. They have never had this situation," he said.

"But we expect the government to learn from other governments overseas and apply those lessons here as soon as possible because people are uncertain about the future."

Kogarah Clubhouse general manager Grant Amer said the club has experienced a 60 per cent downturn in revenue.

"We have had to cut about 40 per cent of staff," he said.

"We need the support of locals at this time so we don't have to cut the numbers of staff who are also locals."

Mr Amer said the club is following advice from government and ClubsNSW to ensure everything possible is done to reduce the risk of potential exposure to coronavirus including actively disinfecting all surfaces throughout the club on a constant basis.

"We have implemented a lot of hygiene measures to try and make our customers comfortable," he said.

"We have removed all cutlery from tables, removed straws, water jugs and glasses from the bar and make them available on request, and there are and sanitizing units placed around the club."

Even with these stringent measures, the club's Pearl Asian Eating House licensee Jordan Wu said business has dropped 60 per cent in the past three weeks.

"We normally get 120 customers on a Friday and are now getting about 30," Jordan said.

Mr Amer said the big loss for the community is that there will be no Anzac Day this year.

"It's the one day of the year when people can remember those who served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

"We usually have about 250 people at the Cenotaph and then two-up and raffles at the club. All the money raised goes to the St George Special School. People get to talk to the diggers and hear their stories.

"None of that will happen. I think people will be left with a hollow feeling this year."