Charlie and Liz’s Family Fruit Market has been trading for more than 30 years
Hundreds of shoppers are expected to gather and spend some cash at a Brisbane fruit-shop next week to show their support for a local small business.
Family-owned Charlie and Liz’s Family Fruit Market has been trading for more than 30 years from its location on Boundary Street in Brisbane’s West End and according to the organiser of the planned “cash mob”, the store is one of a number of small businesses in the shopping precinct struggling to make ends meet.
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In a statement posted on the event’s Facebook page, community organiser Jonathan Sri said “it doesn’t take a genius to work out that rapidly rising rents are forcing long running small businesses on Boundary Street to close up shop for good”.
According to Sri, this is dramatically changing the street from “a local hub that offers day-to-day goods and services into a high-end luxury shopping precinct devoid of the character and community-mindedness that makes Boundary Street so special”.
Urging shoppers to “think global, act local” Sri is calling for people to meet at the fruit shop on the evening of Thursday, October 1 to “buy a few bucks of fruit and veggies from this local small business to help keep them afloat”.
As of this morning, 388 people have said they will participate in the cash mob, including a number of local businesses such as Avid Reader Bookshop.
“A few extra customers could make all the difference,” Sri said.
He lamented many newer residents of the area appear to “happily splurge on craft beer but still prefer to shop at Coles rather than a local family business like Charlie and Liz’s Fruit Shop”, although he acknowledged he personally buys most of his veggies from Food Connect.
“But I still think it’s important that businesses like this continue to exist, particularly on places like Boundary Street,” Sri said.
“It’s worth acknowledging that this sort of action won’t necessarily save businesses like the fruit shop in the long run … but if we publicise it through social media, it’ll help draw broader attention to a key issue that’s hurting small businesses all around inner city Brissie.
“If more people are aware of the problem, it’ll be easier to leverage political power to reform our zoning, property and taxation systems to protect the local character of our community.”
However, store owner Tony Tabet told SmartCompany this morning his business, the turnover of which is undisclosed, is not closing down.
Tabet, whose parents Charlie and Liz Tabet founded the fruit shop, says he has heard of the cash mob event but he wasn’t aware hundreds of people had said they will visit his store next week.
Tabet says if the cash mob does show up it will definitely give the business he runs with his brother a boost.
“I reckon it will,” he says.
Sri, who is a local candidate for the Greens Party, told SmartCompany several “older style” small businesses that previously traded from Boundary Street, including a tailor and hairdresser, have already closed down and he hopes the cash mob with “draw attention” to the plight of small business owners.
He confirmed Charlie and Liz’s Family Fruit Market is not actually closing but he says the “show of support” for the business is a symbolic gesture.
“We want to remind people that just as residential rents are rising and forcing people to move out of the area, commercial leases are also rising very very quickly,” he says.