Traders unite

TENANTS in Airlie Beach’s main street met in a desperate attempt to reduce rising rent costs and to fill the increasing number of vacant shops.

The meeting, which was facilitated by Enterprise Whitsundays on Thursday, saw more than 40 business owners discuss how to successfully lobby landlords and real estate agents for an overall rent decrease of 30 per cent.

The solution was to form a traders association to fight together.

Different cases were put forward at the forum where some people spoke of how some stores had their rents drastically increased and others had already successfully re-negotiated to relieve the pressure.

Stacy Harvey, who owns a number of businesses in town, said she had noticed a significant change in rent costs across the board in Airlie’s main street.

“I have been in business for nine-and-a-half years now and I believe the rents have gone up significantly and the economies have gone down,” she said.

“You just cant sustain that.

“It has been coming for a long time [the struggle].

“It is not just natural disasters.

“Why aren’t things happening as they should where the market sets itself?” Central Reservations owner Tony Laurent said he wanted to make it clear the tenants were not creating a “vendetta” toward the landlords or agents.

“It is not an us and them [thing],” he said.

“We are all in this together.

“We want it to be a healthy town.

“It is a relationship between the landlord and the tenant.

“We are asking for a temporary relief to get us through and hopefully go forward.”

Lyn Gregson, also owns a number of businesses in town and is a director of Enterprise Whitsundays, said it was time for the tenants to unite.

“We need to get together as a group and start cross-collaborating as a group,” she said.

“The rent has to be addressed.

“It is key.

“The community is strong and we can meet demands in the most successful way.”

The tenants planned to meet again next week to elect a steering committee and to create a solid plan for the association to move forward.

Enterprise Whitsundays business enterprise manager Melissa Wick said forming an association was a positive step for the town.

She said she thought the group would be powerful in getting results.

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