Lateral thinking

Rebekah Rogers and Dean King of Hall’s Coffee Cottage with takeaway cuisine and self-isolation entertainment packs. Photo: Rustty Lake-Connolly.

Narrandera Business Group members are promoting a new social media site, Narrandera Online, Takeaway and Delivery Services, with links and resources useful for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group is encouraging local businesses to sign up to the Narrandera Tourism and Industry newsletter via the Narrandera Toursim website.

One local business taking advantage of the new resource is Hall’s Coffee Cottage and Bower Books.

Operators Rebekah Rogers and Dean King have extended their hours to seven days a week to cope with demand for takeaway meals from the community and moteliers.

Ms Rogers said the business continued to service loyal clients during the day and solar project employees with takeaway meals in the evenings.

Her parents have come on board to help with the extra workload.

“Even though the motels are running at 10 per cent or less occupancy, we are trying to be open for the solar farm workers,” she said. “It has surprised us how busy we are – our brains are trying to catch up as it has happened so fast for everybody.

“Everyone is adjusting their hours and trying to work around this.

“Just prior to the lock down we had changed our hours but within a day a couple of motels approached us to deliver meals to them.”

In Leeton, the Business Chamber has initiated gift cards, bi-weekly newsletters, advice, webinars and a six-step business recovery plan to help the town’s business sector.

Chamber executive assistant Maryann Iannelli said it was a basic plan designed to help business owners get their creative juices flowing, block out the noise and get through this tough time.

But, the newly reformed Narrandera Business Chamber has been forced into recess by COVID-19, according to chairman John Sullivan.

“It’s on hold at the moment – we will have time to get it in place before this (pandemic) is cleared,” Mr Sullivan said. “I see many businesses in Narrandera have shut, and consequently it is difficult to speak to them about what we should be doing.

“The plans we have is to develop Narrandera again by seeing we get the maximum amount of income from the two highways running through the town, and develop a few projects in the town itself.”

Mr Sullivan said the chamber would work with business operators once trading restrictions were relaxed.

“We will work with people who have the initiative and drive to see things happen in Narrandera.

“It is unwise to think the good ideas can only come from within the business community, and we will take ideas from across the board to see Narrandera becomes once again a vibrant business community.

“The way Narrandera will improve is to have more finance coming into the town, and generally speaking, that is through business.”

Mr Sullivan welcomed the one-off small business grants but said they did not necessarily generate income for the town.

“We are fortunate in Australia we have taken the necessary action to shorten the time this crisis will take before we re-establish the business community again,” he said. “Personally, I believe the Government is handling the health and economic crisis as best they possibly could.

“Once this is all over, there will be people saying there are better ways but because we are doing it for the first time, there is no given answer.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has appealed to local businesses to help her build an online business directory.

“There are so many fantastic small businesses across the electorate that are adapting to the challenging times we live in,” Ms Cooke said. “I want to know what businesses are open, what you do, where you are and how people can get in contact with you.

“If you are open by appointment only or trading solely online, I want to hear from you too.

“Never has it been a more important time to back our businesses right across our towns and small villages.”

Business NSW regional manager Andrew Cottrill said the regional economies in Riverina Murray have held on quite strongly through the March quarter.

Mr Cottrill said regional confidence was the strongest in the state, possibly off the back of good autumn rain.

“What is abundantly clear though is that business confidence drops off very quickly as we move into April and the June quarter.

“Many businesses have needed to go into hibernation with major staffing reductions or closures, while others have needed to reinvent themselves to maintain operations through the lockdown.

“It has been pleasing to see the establishment of the new Department for Regional NSW, which will enable a higher degree of focus on initiatives that will aid our regional economic recovery.”

“We know from our experience with the bushfire and drought crises that there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

“With the newly empowered Department for Regional NSW, we have an opportunity to engage local stakeholders in the recovery planning and actions.”

Meanwhile, Coles Narrandera closed its front doors on April 6 in line with social distancing regulations, with customers asked to enter and exit via the carpark’s registers.

Narrandera Newsagency advises home deliveries of the Argus will continue.

For residents requiring extra assistance during COVID-19, Narrandera Meals on Wheels has a large variety of frozen main meals and sweets. No referral is necessary, with meals either delivered or collected from outside of the office. Phone 6959 4499 for assistance.

Robinson’s Department Store has stocked a range of old-fashioned games for the backyard, including skittles, croquet and rounders.

Narrandera Bakery is also making home deliveries from 9am-12 noon Monday to Saturday. Call the bakery on 6959 3677 to place an order.

Carter Family Chiropractic Centre advises the clinic has closed until April 14 to all non-urgent cases. The clinic urges patients to reschedule their appointments on 6953 3330.

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