A Shepparton icon saved from closing its doors

THE DOORS STAY OPEN… Dimmey’s Shepparton franchisees, Brian and Sharon Baxter can now keep trading with the help of a drop in their rent. Photo: Katelyn Morse

Drop in rent saves local business

IF you’ve lived in Shepparton or frequented the area over the last 20 years, you will have become quite familiar with the huge, red letters for Dimmey’s on High Street.

From clothing and homewares, to rugs and giftware, Dimmey’s has been a one-stop-shop for affordable products in Shepparton since before I was even born.

Recently, with the increase of online shopping and less and less people frequenting the Shepparton CBD for their shopping, Dimmey’s Shepparton franchisee’s Brian and Sharon Baxter decided it was time to close up and move on.

After a week of making this sad decision, and with the closing down signs still fresh in the windows, Brian was surprised to get a call from the building’s landlord.

“We were pretty set on giving up. We moved to Shepparton for the business 18 years ago and have been here ever since. We love it here but business has been getting harder and harder,” Brian said.

“When our landlord rang and said he would reduce our rent, I was shocked. I had prepared to close the doors, move on and start a new career, but when Sam (landlord) said he’d rather us pay less than have an empty building, I really couldn’t close the doors.”

You only have to drive along High Street to see just how many empty stores there are, and that’s not including all of the vacant stores in the Maude Street Mall. While the other side of the Mall, Fryers Street, is a thriving spot for coffee and grabbing a bite to eat, High Street is in dire need of help.

According to the latest statistics from the Australian Business Register, the number of businesses from the south side of High Street, including Corio Street, Vaughan Street and Maude Street, was 157. Looking at the other side, with Stewart St, Fryers Street and some of Nixon Street and Welsford Street, there were a total of 682 businesses.

Brian said, “Sam’s decision to do this means we have one less vacant store in the CBD and could pave the way to rebuilding the town. If we offer rent deals that encourage retailers to fill the empty buildings in the heart of our town it would then encourage more customers to shop in the CBD. The alternative is stores will continue to close and it’ll make it harder and harder to rebuild.”

Dimmey’s Shepparton are going to put a bigger focus on their high-quality and affordable rugs, which aren’t a product that can be easily shopped for online.

Brian said, “You need to feel the quality and see the colours in person. We also have very competitive prices, so it’s likely to be cheaper in store since you don’t have to pay shipping costs either!”