Mildura Regional Development CEO, Brett Millington, and Tom Pack owner Eddie Poon. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
AS Mildura businesses begin to reopen and their customers return, Mildura Regional Development (MRD) is looking at ways in which the community can support local traders and spread the word that they are open for business again.

As a result they have launched their ‘Fork it local Friday’ initiative, which encourages staff within local businesses to buy lunch from local food vendors each Friday and in doing so promote the business they supported that week by sharing it on their businesses’ Facebook using a trending hashtag, #forkitlocalfriday.

One of the featured stores this week is Thom Pack’s takeaway in the Langtree Mall, whose owner Eddie Poon, has just reopened after a temporary shut down due to the coronavirus.

“Since we reopened the doors business has been okay, Eddie said.

“Gradually our customers are coming back as more businesses open around the town and people get out and about more.”

The name Thom Pack is famous in Mildura, and for those residents old enough to remember, Eddie’s great grandfather, the original Thom Pack, had a mixed business on the corner of Langtree Avenue and Ninth Street for many decades.

Today’s Thom Pack specialises in the best in Chinese and Australian takeaway. Whether it’s a beef and black bean, chicken and vegetables or a sweet and sour lunch pack, with some fried rice and dim sims on the side – you can’t beat it. For those who like chips and a burger or a pasty or pie, Eddie’s got the lot, including a big range of drinks.

Eddie suggests ordering in person – over the counter – to ensure you get the freshest, hottest meal, which will be ready for you in no time to takeaway.

MRD CEO, Brett Millington, said that Mildura’s retailers had experienced tough times due to the COVID-19 situation, and now that businesses are starting to emerge they need some support.

“We will see people starting to come back into those businesses and there might be five to ten people in an office and so what we are asking people to do, is instead of bringing your lunch from home or going and buying separately, why not get together and buy lunch from one place, and by doing so, you’ll be providing an injection of cash into that business,” he said.

“It was encouraging to see a slight return over the long weekend and it was great to see a number of people dining out at the cafes and restaurants that were open.

“That was not only an indicator of locals getting out and supporting those businesses, but also people travelling from the surrounds.

“We are actually a tri-State town, given our proximity to NSW and also South Australia, and of course that border will reopen at some time in the near future, and it is such an important market to us and we will continue to leverage into Adelaide and regional South Australia to attract that tourist market.”

Mr Millington said that his organisation is keen to promote and develop the RV traveller market as well.

“We’re certainly on the push in regard to the RV status of the town and looking at what it will take for us to be recognised as RV friendly,” he said.

“Opportunities certainly exist for us to link into organisations like Wikicamps and the Motor Home Association to promote Mildura as a destination.

“We are a gateway to the outback and therefore we should be a destination point for caravan, RV’s. People who are ready and raring to go as soon as things normalise, why shouldn’t Mildura be their first stop with our fantastic climate, great food and beverage − so much to offer in terms of our lifestyle here − which is attractive to people from all over Australia.”