Gloucester small business survives and thrives through COVID

Janice Sansom and her daughter, Evette Terras have been in partnership at Uptown Country for 18 months. Photo Anne Keen
Janice Sansom and her daughter, Evette Terras have been in partnership at Uptown Country for 18 months. Photo Anne Keen

It may not have been an easy ride for Gloucester business owners Evette Terras and Janice Sansom, but this partnership has weathered the COVID storm.

And thanks to the continual stream of tourists coming into town determined to spend money regionally, their business is thriving.

Unlikely other Australian businesses, Evette and Janice's retail shop has been ineligible for any of the government handouts during the virtual lockdown of the country.

"When the NSW Government announced that they were providing grants of $10,000 financial support to ease the pressures on small business, I was ecstatic, until I found out that our small business did not meet the criteria," Evette said.

The pair were not eligible for jobkeeper either. Faced with the epic decision of whether or not to stay open or to close their doors, the mother-daughter duo opted to push on.

"We had to dig deep and think 'what can we do?'," Evette said. "We needed to do everything we could to make sure we were here at the end of it."

The government started to shutdown businesses at the end of March, and according to Evette, by April Gloucester was "ghost town".

"It was dead," Evette explained. "It all stopped for us."

And to top of all off, all the winter stock ordered pre-COVID had started to arrive.

"We couldn't just send the stock back. That's not how it works."

But keeping the shop open and having an option for locals to still buy the clothes they needed was important to them.

"It was about still providing a service to the community," Janice explained. "People needed to know we were opened if they needed to get something."

So they stayed open, but altered things a little. They ran shorter public business hours and kept the morning and afternoon available for one-on-one shopping so customers to come in and get what they needed and still feel safe. They also took phone orders, which they delivered, as well as setting up a website.

Once April ended and the travel restrictions started to ease, business picked up exponentially.

"It's been incredibly busy," Evette said. "People are coming in and saying that they are travelling around regional NSW and just buying something in every shop. Lots of people that are meant to be overseas have decided to do road trips instead."

The pair have been getting lots of positive feedback about the town and their shop as floods of tourists continue to pour through town.

"It's just incredible the amount of support that keeps coming through," Evette said. "People we don't know are asking if we are okay."

Although the business hasn't quite made up for the loss during April, a period when typically sales would have been booming due to Easter and school holidays, things are definitely looking up.

"Hopefully it keeps going," Janice smiled.