Berry businesses: we’ll withstand the bypass

OPTIMISTIC: Utopia owner Jason Vickary believes business will remain steady when the Berry bypass is up and running. Picture: Rebecca Fist

OPTIMISTIC: Utopia owner Jason Vickary believes business will remain steady when the Berry bypass is up and running. Picture: Rebecca Fist

The Berry bypass, due to open in July, has been the talk of the town, and many business owners are confident their shops will survive, if not thrive, with less traffic through the main street.

The Famous Berry Donut Van owner’s so optimistic, she’s expanding the business and opening an ice creamery.

“My boss thinks the bypass will bring more people to the van because Berry will be quicker to get to,” employee Leah Swain said.

“Lots of people already know about us.”

The Berry Barn shopkeepers Pauline Windley and Gillian Lett have welcomed the bypass.

“I think it’s great,” Mrs Windley said.

“It’ll be nice sitting by the street, drinking a coffee without trucks passing by.” 

“You can’t talk on the phone out there at the moment, the traffic is so loud,” Ms Lett said.

Mrs Windley said the town’s wedding venues draw people to town, and customers to retail stores, such as The Berry Barn.

“People come from Sydney specifically to spend the weekend in Berry,” Mrs Windley said.

“The accommodation is always full.”

Mrs Windley believes the business community in Berry has successfully negotiated greater challenges in the past.

“My parents owned a takeaway shop years ago, and there was nowhere to park when they dug out the street and had one lane for traffic going north and south,” she said. 

“If they survived that, I’m sure we can survive a bypass.”

Utopia owner Jason Vickary thinks the bypass will help business in the long run.

“It’s hard crossing the street at the moment, and people with kids or a dog avoid the main street,” he said.

“I think the bypass will encourage people to come back.

“We could close the street off on weekends, and then cafes could spread out, and have al fresco dining.

“During winter the shop might get quiet, some people are panicking, we should be fine.” 

Not all Berry shopkeepers look forward to the bypass.

Berry Ice Creamery, Berry Sweets and Treats owner Julie Jenkins has been bracing for a tough financial year ahead.

“Small businesses need to prepare for a loss of trade, we are going to feel it,” she said.

“Businesses would be naive to think it’s not going to hit us.”

She fears food vendors will be the hardest hit. 

In 2006, the Kiama bypass temporarily affected Kiama small businesses and Mrs Jenkins has called on the entire community to follow Kiama’s lead in proactively attracting people to town.

“When the Kiama bypass was put in, Kiama was hit for 12 months,” she said.

“Look at it now, it’s booming, they have the Jazz and Blues Festival, events that keep drawing people in.”

Mrs Jenkins recently launched a social media campaign to promote her business.

“If everyone’s doing that, we’ll each get a little piece,” she said.

The Berry local does look forward to the change of pace in the main street.

She has fond memories of an elderly man running horse and cart tours through town.

“It will have more of a quaint feel without trucks,” Mrs Jenkins said.

“When the trucks got worse, the little old man in his horse and buggy stopped coming.”

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