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IGA owner fears for Yarralumla shops if rival liquor store goes ahead next door

Ian Bushnell 9 May 2019 36

Yvonne Dourdoulakis outside the premises next door to the IGA Supermarket, where a Jim Murphy Cellars liquor store is planned. Photos: George Tsostsos.

Jim Murphy Cellars’ bid to open a liquor store at the Yarralumla Shops is hard to swallow for IGA/Local Liquor Supermarket owner Yvonne Dourdoulakis, not just because she will have a rival next door but because she fears for the future of the struggling suburban shopping centre.

Jim Murphy Cellars has applied to ACT Liquor for an off premises liquor licence for 25 Bentham Street, which used to house the post office until it closed in March. It plans to operate every day from 7 am to 11 pm.

Ms Dourdoulakis, who with her husband has run the IGA since 2004, says if the licence was granted it could see the beginning of the end for the Yarralumla Shops, which has seen a number of businesses close in recent times and needs new ventures to complement the ones already there.

“I obviously don’t want a liquor store next to me but I’m looking at the big picture of what makes local shopping centres survive,” said the businesswoman, who also owns with her siblings many of the properties at the Ainslie Shops.

“We are firm believers that the shops within shopping centres need to complement each other, not fight against each other, that’s when you get closures. They’re meant to be businesses that work well together.”

She says local residents and other businesses also don’t want another liquor store there but would prefer something like a bakery, which the centre lost a couple of years ago.

They are also concerned about the impact a liquor store opening until late at night will have on crime and behaviour in the community, which already has a high rate of break-ins and robberies.

As well as the Local Liquor outlet, there are already three on-premises liquor licences at restaurants in the centre, and another liquor store would be too many.

“How many liquor licences do you really need in one centre?” Ms Dourdoulakis said. “It’s a very small shopping centre.”

The Yarralumla IGA includes a large Local Liquor outlet.

She had told the owner of the premises that she would be willing to take the lease and sub-let it to a business to ensure a right fit for the shops but he was confident of being granted the licence.

“I know a number of submissions, by residents and other businesses owners, have been sent to ACT Liquor opposing the granting of the liquor license, but I’m also afraid they may not be taken into full consideration before a decision is made,” Ms Dourdoulakis said.

Yarralumla Residents Association president Mike Lewis said the community organisation did not have a position on the application but members had lodged objections as individuals.

The Association had been concerned for some time at the number of empty premises at the shops and Mr Lewis said the Government should consider penalties for landlords sitting on tenancies, similar to those used to deter land banking.

Ms Dourdoulakis operated the post office business for eight years before selling it in 2014, and has just completed a $100,000 refurbishment to take it back to serve the Yarralumla community.

“It was a headache I didn’t really want but it needed to be done,” she said.

She feared there would be more shops closing in Yarralumla. “To see local shopping centres falling apart is quite a sad thing,” she said.

The key issues contributing to their decline were high commercial rates and rents. Some landowners were also happy to leave premises empty if they could not achieve the rents they wanted.

The consultation period for the application closes on 15 May. For more information go here.

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36 Responses to IGA owner fears for Yarralumla shops if rival liquor store goes ahead next door
Anna Reiner Anna Reiner 7:16 am 11 May 19

They would all get more customers if there was somewhere to park ...

bronal 11:50 am 11 May 19

Surely people realise that the profit from liquor sales helps to subsidise grocery sales? I wonder why Jim Murphy’s didn’t lease the old bakery. It is much larger than the old post office and could therefore stock a wide range. As far as parking is concerned, it has always been difficult at Yarralumla and I don’t see any easy answers as there is residential development all around the shops.

maxblues 2:08 pm 11 May 19

The ACT is just about the only jurisdiction in Australia that permits off-licence premises to set up in close proximity. Certainly highly regulated in Qld, NSW and SA. Not sure about current set up in Victoria (they went a bit crazy during the cleanskin wine ‘bubble’).

Jp Romano Jp Romano 10:19 am 12 May 19

Listen to all these anti capitalists. Business is business, if a business sees potential to make money then let them try!

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