Another Cobar business in the running for regional awards

Local business couple, Andre Van Wyk and Anni van der Westhuizen, are thrilled and humbled to have their business nominated in this year’s Western NSW Business Awards.

Another Cobar business is among the nominations for the 2022 Western NSW Business Awards, which recognises growth, entrepreneurship and the success of busi-nesses across the Central West, Orana, and Far West regions.
Anni’s Arts & Crafts has been nominated for the Excellence in Micro Business Award which recognises a business that has effective-ly driven growth to achieve business success and/or resilience.
While thrilled to have been nominated, busi-ness owners, Anni van der Westhuizen and partner Andre Van Wyk, are reluctant partici-pants in the awards process as Anni said she’s not comfortable “tooting her own horn”.
“Things that make my business successful are listening to customers, anticipating what they want, being willing to source and stock what customers ask for and my great staff,” Anni told The Cobar Weekly.
Anni and Andre first arrived in Cobar almost six years ago when Andre took up a position at one of the mines.
Anni decided to open an arts and crafts shop and maybe also teach some art lessons “to keep busy”.
For 15 years prior to that she’d run three retail, tourism and art businesses in busy Free-mantle, WA.
When Anni opened her first business in Co-bar, she didn’t receive the most welcoming of receptions with some saying, “don’t support her, she’s not local”.
Anni said that hurt her personally but it also made her more determined.
When they bought the Cobar Newsagency business in November 2020 and someone com-mented “Thank goodness it’s a local” Anni was thrilled that she and Andre were now con-sidered to be “locals”.
Right from the start Anni’s Arts & Crafts never seemed to have enough room for all of their stock and Anni was quick to take up the lease on the neighbouring shop when the Eagle Boys pizza franchise closed five years ago.
She also opened a second shop, Lucky’s, across the road and then amalgamated it into Anni’s last year when the building on the other side became vacant after the chemist closed.
In addition to physically working in their businesses, the pair travel every second week to purchase stock, they also import a lot of stock, and then there’s the accounts to pay and the window and in-store displays to update which are done on a regular basis.
“I try to stock different things that the other shops don’t have, because if you don’t have different things all the time, people won’t come in,” Anni said.
She said before they came to Australia they had lived in South Africa during a pandemic which had somewhat prepared them for the COVID pandemic.
“When we heard something like that may have been going to happen, I told Andre we need to stock up.
“I thought about what are people going to do and I made a list and called my family and asked how they kept their kids busy and things like that.
“I got so much stock and Andre said ‘You make me nervous,’ and I said ‘I’m so nervous, don’t make me more nervous!’”
The risk however paid off and their stock sold quickly.
Anni also set up an online business with contactless pick up which also helped to keep their big stock supply moving.
Anni and Andre’s focus is now on the Cobar Newsagency, which is next in line for some big business expansions.
The winners of this year’s Western NSW 2022 Business Awards will be announced next month at a gala dinner in Dubbo