“Hi Col, how is Joan and the kids going, hope everyone is well?” That is the kind of greeting you receive each time you go into a local business in a country town.
Of course not everyone is called Col and Joan, but I hope you get the point. In small business you are referred to by name and there is a genuine care about you and your family’s well being. It certainly is the response you would receive when you walk through the doors of the Office Shop in Victor Harbor.
Max Bell has operated the Office Shop for 25 years and is very well known, not just in Victor Harbor, but throughout the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Max runs a good professional business. He has had a partnership with Telstra for the 25 years he has had the business and it has been a win, win for both parties. But now Telstra has informed Max they are to terminate their relationship in January 2018.
Five jobs will be gone and many within the community will be without an important service, which they have relied upon. Hence there has been a public outcry, which has seen more than 50 business and community leaders gather outside the Coral Street store and petitions filling fast for a reversal of the decision.
It was outstanding to see more than 50 people from all walks of business meet on a busy mid-morning Wednesday to throw their weight behind another business. They left their own business to say “this is wrong”.
Victor Harbor has a growing elderly demographic, which over the past 10 years has seen a 30 per cent increase in residents aged 75 and over. It is this demographic that the Office Shop services with staff that know their customers by name and help them with the “small” questions on how to use the new phone, from the changing of a ring tone, how to retrieve messages, how to send photos and what is the best phone plan to purchase.
Telstra plan to terminate this service, yet there are other regional non-branded Telstra partners in the state still operating. The Office Shop has been singled out and Max and the community are none the wiser on why.
For the past four years there has been another Telstra Shop in the Victor Shopping Centre, so it is apparent the two can co-exist and like the chair of Business Victor Harbor Nick Gormley said “what is wrong with competition?” and “there should be a choice”.
Hopefully Telstra will re-think their decision.