Many local retail businesses were looking forward to celebrating Cobar’s second annual Grey Mardi Gras festival next month and the financial boost it would bring to their businesses.
Window and shop decorations had been purchased or purpose-built, extra merchandise had been ordered and retailers were also planning their 50s, 60s and 70s outfits.
Cobar Business Association president Sharon Harland said Visual Merchandising expert Carol Bagaric had also been invited to come and work with local retailers on their ideas.
“With the festival’s cancellation just two days before Carol’s visit, we decided that it would still be worth her visiting however we asked Carol to change the focus of her one-on-one workshops,” Mrs Harland said.
Carol spent two days last week working with nine local retailers in their stores looking at the outside of their shops, their window and in-store displays and asking them if they had any challenges or struggles.
“They could pick my brain for ideas,” Carol said.
“I also asked them ‘Where’s your business at? And what’s your Plan B?’
“It’s a bit like an intense counselling/coaching session,” she said.
Carol said while they were all disappointed about the Mardi Gras being cancelled and wary about their future with the Coronavirus pandemic, she said they were still positive.
“A lot of retailers have been saying it’s business as usual, we’re just going to keep going until we can’t.”
Carol encouraged each to activate their shop fronts and to do something striking and dramatic.
“As we feel uncertainty, we don’t want that reflected in the main street.”
She encouraged retailers to take part in the planned online Grey Mardi Gras.
“We’ll have the event without having it.
“There’s no reason why the main street can’t go into Mardi Gras mode coupled with online activity.”