The food court at Kern Arcade.
The food court at Kern Arcade.

Shocked business owners speak out about Kern Arcade’s future

KERN Arcade business owners are still reeling from the shock revelation yesterday the complex would close in the New Year and their businesses would have to relocate.

Yesterday afternoon Arcade News and Casket, Blue Leaf Takeaway and Downtown Diva hair salon were all told by the Kern Arcade co-owner, Clarke Cooper, the centre would be closing down.

Scoffins Watches and Clocks is also in the centre however it is unclear when the business' owner was informed.

A business owner, wished to remain anonymous, told The Morning Bulletin they were told Coopers, Propaganda and The Arcade Outlet were closing and the Kern Arcade would also close because it was not viable for it to continue.

No formal date has been given however it is understood it could be as soon as two months.

Shop leases have not been renewed with the last one running out a month ago, the business owner claimed.

"The word evict was never used but what else do you use?" they said.

"We don't have a date."

Struggling to come to terms with the changes, the business owner said it had not sunk in yet.

"No one is happy of course," they said.

"It's a matter of 'what do you do?' Do you try and establish a business somewhere else or count your losses?

"We've all got home loans to pay, even if we just make repayments."

During the peak of COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year the, Cooper family-owned stores were closed and the food court area was roped off.

The three remaining businesses operating at the time went thirds to pay the cleaner to stay on.

Mathers Shoes closed down at the end of July and it is understood its lease was not renewed.

All of the businesses in the Arcade have been there for years, with the newsagency two months off marking 30 years at the site.

Over the years the Arcade has been home to many other businesses including Sam Wray Chocolates, a donut bar, The Carvery, Prouds, Happy Buda Asian takeaway, lingerie shop, Thailicious, Simplicity Flowers and a menswear store, Trends for Men.

A statement was posted to the Coopers and Propaganda Facebook pages yesterday announcing the closure.

It said COVID and online shopping had a "severe impact on the fashion industry and recovery will take some time".

The Morning Bulletin approached Mr Cooper in person today, who said he wasn't willing to make any further comment on the situation until COVID-19 measures change at the end of the year.

Real estate data shows the Kern Arcade was sold for $1.7M to the Cooper family in 1993.

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