Community that shops 
together, stays together

Bookgrove's Stacey Moore. (Photo supplied)

Alana Richards

The past few months has been a difficult time for local traders. Whether closing up shop, adapting to new conditions or just scraping by, businesses have felt the pinch of COVID-19.

But Ocean Grove is a town where people pull together and taking on the coronavirus pandemic has been no different.

Ocean Grove Business Association president Ty Simons says community support has been great as businesses adapted to a new way of doing things to ensure they could trade throughout COVID-19 restrictions.

“Whether people ventured outside or not, local services were still available,” Ty says.

Options for home delivery covered eggs and milk from Will & Johnny ‘The Egg Man’ to a vast number of take-away food options including steak and seafood from The Zebra Bar and delicious pizzas from Napona.

Ocean Grove Hardware has been delivering too, as has News Express and The Bookgrove.

Other bricks and mortar shops used the closure as an opportunity to boost their online presence.

Wardrobes by the Sea owner Geraldine McDonald said: “I have been meaning to get the online store up and running for ages – now it is done and looking great!”

Local eatery The Driftwood Café also jumped into the online ordering market and launched its service at the start of the lockdown.

Tami McAdam from The Piping Hot Chicken and Burger Grill recruited her brother to do home deliveries and is happy to have been able to stay open throughout the period of tough restrictions.

Those businesses that closed their doors have slowly begun to welcome locals back in store.

Local events also are re-starting, such as the Bellarine Farmers’ Market which had a wonderful first day back on June 20.

Organisers said stall holders were all very happy with the social distancing undertaken by the crowd and the show of support. Markets will continue to be held on the third Saturday of every month.

Ty says after the first round of restrictions eased, there had been a sense of relaxation and most shops were now opened to the public.

“Cafés and restaurants have also opened for seating with sanitiser stands at every door and strict rules about numbers being seated,” he says.

“This has not worked for all businesses, with some being too small to re-open and others too big to make it economically viable.

“The recent halting to the planned relaxing of restrictions was unfortunate timing. Many larger restaurants would have ordered goods and started prepping ready for a Monday re-opening, only to be told they were unable to move ahead as planned. Planning to re-open and then subsequently closing is an expensive exercise.

“We are not out of the woods yet and this is the start of the quietest time of year for local businesses.

“The upcoming school holidays will bring people to the town and we hope that we are all able to stay safe with incoming visitors.

“There is still a road ahead to recovery and getting things back to ‘normal’, but with the help of our local community, we’ll get through it.”

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