Wollongong has “missed the mark” in fostering a growing retail sector in the CBD, according to an Illawarra businesswoman.
Jude Felton ran the vintage clothing store Something for Doris for eleven years, finally closing its Kembla Street doors late last year.
While there were several factors leading to the popular store to close – including a battle with chronic fatigue and a relationship breakdown – she said making success of a retail outlet in the city was difficult.
“Wollongong itself has a little bit missed the mark in the redesigning of the mall – it’s a bit too mainstream,” Ms Felton said.
“Why would you bother going to the mall when you can go to Miranda or Shellharbour which are all under cover.
“The feel of Wollongong mall is a bit drab.”
Wollongong itself has a little bit missed the mark in the redesigning of the mall – it’s a bit too mainstream.Jude Felton
However, she did say retailers were struggling nationwide.
Recently Ms Felton attended a trade show in Melbourne and noticed a decline in boutiques. She said the current trend was for established businesses (such as post offices, newsagencies or pharmacies) to branch out and sell other goods.
Something for Doris was the fifth business the Ms Felton has been involved with, but not the last.
The entrepreneur is launching a new retro clothing line, Hey Jude, but is ditching a bricks and mortar store for online customers.
“I always have a big group of customers in Wollongong, but I envisage [most clients] will probably be from outback towns and hard to get to towns where it’s hard to find diversity,” Ms Felton said.
Meantime, the annual Vintage Ball for Doris run by the businesswoman continues for a sixth year on August 25 as a fundraiser for the Wollongong Animal Rescue Network and the NSW Bull Terrier Rescue.
Since the ball’s inception in 2013 it has raised nearly $50,000 for animal welfare agencies.
This year’s theme is “The Golden Age Of Travel” – a time when heading on holidays via a plane or boat was “new and exciting”, according to Ms Felton.
“People would really dress up for the occasion,” she said.
“[Attire] could be anywhere from palazzo pants you wear on deck on a boat or a beautiful evening dress you might wear to the Captain’s Dinner.”
Tickets are $100 each and include champagne and canapés on arrival, main meal, dessert and entertainment. www.trybooking.com/VRBI
Vintage Ball for Doris, The Builders Club Wollongong, Saturday August 25.