Local support support ‘takes risk out of’ venture

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New horizons...Country Living directors Katie and Dwayne Smith are setting up the Interior Ware house, an extension of their business, in the for mer H&J Smith depart ment store. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The support of Gore shoppers is giving the owners of a business in the town confidence to spread their wings.

Country Living directors Katie and Dwayne Smith are in the process of setting up the Interior Warehouse in the former H&J Smith department store on the corner of Irk and Main Sts.

Mrs Smith said she wondered if it was “crazy to open a business in the middle of a pandemic” but then decided to go ahead.

“You only live once and if you’ve got a dream, why not give it a go?”

Country Living customers gave the couple confidence there was a need for the new venture.

“How lucky we are to have the support of all the locals, ’cause since Covid, people have really looked to keep their town going,” Mrs Smith said.

Mr Smith said the community support was “embedded in the town so it takes the risk out of it”.

It was planned the shop would sell homeware and decor.

“Anything from kitchen tables to statement pieces for your home,” they said.

“It’s going to look like Country Living on steroids,” Mrs Smith said.

She enjoyed providing customers with items they wanted to buy for their homes.

“It probably is my niche.”

The couple searched for about a year to find a site big enough but there was a shortage of available places to rent.

When the Covid-19 situation developed, they decided to shelve the plans.

“I was like ‘too hard, let’s not do it’,” Mrs Smith said.

When the news broke about H&J Smith’s downsize, she was “gutted to hear that”.

However, the couple then became aware there was the opportunity to rent the space.

“It’s a great opportunity and a great location,” Mr Smith said.

“We feel quite privileged to be able to occupy it to give the public options to continue to shop local.”

The couple hoped the business would bring people from outside the district.

“We really want to make Gore a destination,” Mrs Smith said.

“We want to bring people into town to support all the shops.”

The shop would employ four extra staff, including three who had been made redundant earlier this year.

A grand opening would be held on October 1 at 5pm and the shop would start normal trading hours on October 2.