Australian News

Australian news and media publication


After being thrown into Sydney’s toughest lockdown, Fairfield’s businesswoman Sylvia Garcia’s first reaction was understandably negative.

When Ms. Garcia arrived at Theo’s Cecinas Butchery & Smallgoods to start the work week on Monday, July 19, she left the store’s wall-to-wall display case unusually empty.

“I felt like people wouldn’t want to come to Fairfield at all,” he recalled. “It was a horrible feeling, really isolating.”

And financially devastating. Up to 90 percent of Theo’s sales are to out-of-area customers.

But it didn’t take long for her and her family to shake off the sadness of closure and set out to make the best of a bad situation.

Ms. García’s son, Nicolás, a fourth-generation butcher, caused the change in attitude and activity. He had long wanted Theo’s to make deliveries. Now was the time.

So word spread on social media. Orders came pouring in.

“It took off right away,” Garcia said.

Theo’s now offers contactless delivery to clients as far away as Hills and Shire, with plans to go further south to Wollongong and even ACT when possible.

Ms. Garcia said, “This is a learning curve for us. But we are embracing it.

“Things will get better,” Ms. Garcia said. “We just need to provide the service our customers are used to.”

And that’s why the 25-year-old store in Fairfield West now looks as inviting as ever, with the display case once again brimming with meaty delicacies.

Gabriel Violaris, owner of Smart St Fish Market in downtown Fairfield, has taken a similar sight to half a glass. You are not skimping on stock, even if the trade is down.

In the first week of this lockdown, the volume of business was 80% below what it would normally be; in the second week it was reduced by 70 percent and, since then, by 50 percent.

“You are not going to make money now,” Violaris said. “It’s about surviving.”

“I think we shouldn’t give up. Soldier activated. “

He has avoided layoffs, but his five part-time employees have reduced hours.

“Everyone is winning a little bit,” he said. “It is an opportunity for people to pay their bills.”

A few stores later in Eye Concepts, optometrist Thuc-Quyen Nguyen-Phuoc said that “the Fairfield area has been the hardest hit” of the eight local government areas under a tighter lockdown.

Ms. Nguyen-Phuoc is in a better position than most to judge, given that she lives in Canterbury-Bankstown LGA, one of two other areas that, along with Fairfield, were the first to introduce restrictions since July 18.

“After the police presence announcement, Fairfield was a ghost town,” he said.

“There is much greater financial and mental strain” from this blockade than from previous ones, Ms Nguyen-Phuoc said. Like Violaris, he described the current goal as “survival.”

Eye Concepts practice manager Vivien Le said “some days we don’t have any business.”

Similarly, across the street, Al Shakarchi Bakery co-owner Mohammed Rashedi said the business was “dead.”

“This month I’m not paying the rent,” said Rashedi, who opened her store in January.

A stone’s throw away, at Alex’s dry cleaners, owner Alex Younan has just completed the paperwork for government financial support. Business is down more than 90 percent compared to normal levels.

Still, he tried to be optimistic.

“We are going to get through this, with the help of our community and other communities,” Younan said.

The area’s federal MP for the area, Chris Bowen of the Labor Party, said people supported local businesses, whether it was buying takeout once a week or simply buying coffee when they didn’t really need it.

“The community keeps them alive,” said the McMahon deputy.

Bowen’s electorate covers three LGAs now in severe lockdown: Fairfield, Blacktown and Holroyd. He said easing restrictions preventing construction workers and traders from leaving had to be “an urgent priority.”

Tellingly, by far the busiest stores in Fairfield were the respiratory clinic, which offered testing for Covid-19, and Centrelink.


www.news.com.au

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *