The end of a long era looms for one of Kiama's oldest businesses with expressions of interest called for Kiama Supply Co in Terralong Street.
The store has been on its current Terralong Street site since the 1950s, but through the Simmons family has links to general stores in Kiama that date back to the 1880s.
In the 1950s, the Simmons Bros operated two separate stores at either ends of Kiama.
The two stores came together on the current site, the new store initially split down the middle with grocery products on one side and hardware on the other.
"We haven't downsized at all and business continues, but we don't have the growth we would like ... we are doing well to hold ground.''
It became exclusively a hardware store - albeit one where you could buy just about anything - in the early 1960s.
The business became known as Kiama Supply Co when a number of Kiama businessmen came on board as directors and investors. However, these directors were bought out in the late 1970s by brothers Dave and Ross Simmons who have had control of the Mitre 10 business since.
The property comprises two parcels of land, which combined are almost 2000 square metres, and offers rare "double frontage" in the heart of the main street.
The property is being advertised by Raine and Horne Kiama as a development site. The rear parcel neighbours Kiama council's Akuna Street car park, which has been earmarked for a retail and residential development.
Store owner Dave Simmons said the timing was right for the business to test the market, especially with the council's interest in the adjoining land.
"Business follows the path economics takes it," Mr Simmons said.
"We feel, based on evidence from other businesses, the path is to create the interest in the property ... this is the major asset of our organisation.
"It will be up to the council or someone else to work out what they can do with the asset."
The property is for sale by tender, but it may be some time before the doors close on Kiama Supply Co altogether, with a "lease back" option included in a potential sale.
The sale comes as construction continues on a new Masters Hardware store at Albion Park Rail, which will be just down the road from the Shellharbour Bunnings.
Mr Simmons said the Kiama business had continued regardless of the arrival of the hardware giants.
"We haven't downsized at all and business continues, but we don't have the growth we would like ... we are doing well to hold ground.
"We are a bit of identity in town with loyal staff and loyal customers.
"We have been upfront with our staff, we have about 16 all up in various forms so we a reasonable employer for a small town."
Council crunches numbers on property
Kiama mayor Brian Petschler said the Kiama Supply Co property was of strategic interest to Kiama Council.
‘‘We have been made aware of the sale...but we are fairly committed financially to existing programs,’’ Cr Petschler said.
‘‘We are looking at it but I can’t say at this stage if we would be taking steps to get involved.’’
Last week the council’s Akuna Street car park was the topic of a confidential discussion at Kiama council’s ordinary meeting.
‘‘We have an interested party for a long-term use of the site along the lines of the concept fora supermarket and residential component,’’ Cr Petschler said.
‘‘Our agent Colliers will be in more detailed discussion but that is looking promising.’’
Last November Kiama Council released a concept plan of what it would like to see happen on its Akuna Street car park.
The area was identified as a key strategic site by the council in 2002, but multiple attempts to activate the area with a commercial development failed.
The council’s concept plan provides for a development that includes a supermarket of 2000square metres, up to 14 speciality shops, around 30 units and provision to retain the existing 79 public car spaces in Akuna Street.
In 2012 the council paid $3.2million for Weston & Co Publishing’s property in Shoalhaven Street, which neighbours the car park.
In purchasing Weston’s 1915-square-metre property, the council became the sole owner of a 5152-square-metre site.
- ALEX ARNOLD