ONE OF Mildura’s best know ladies clothing stores is closing its doors in the Langtree Mall soon, heralding the end of more than 30 years of trading.
Lorraine’s joins more than 25 other businesses that have closed their doors in the shopping precinct, leaving for lease signs on shop windows from one end of the mall to the other.
Lorraine’s closure highlights the growing retail crisis in the mall and it needs to be addressed by Council as a matter of urgency.
Carol Pulsi, owner of Lorraine’s, told the ‘Weekly that she is reluctantly closing her store when the lease expires in February.
“I wasn’t going to sign up for a long lease. I asked for a six month extension, but the landlord didn’t want to grant that and I wasn’t going to enter into a long-term lease given the year we had in 2020, and the ongoing uncertainty of things at the moment,” Carol said.
“By then we would have known what was happening with vaccinations and know how we are going with COVID because once winter hits, who knows what’s going to happen again? Look at what’s happened overseas.”
The popular fashion store was named Lorraine’s by former owner Lorraine Palmer, who had the business for 14 years prior to Carol purchasing it.
“I retained the name when I took over and I have been here for 16 years,” Carol said.
“Lorraine purchased the business from the owner before her, so this business has actually been here for a lot more than 30 years.”
Carol said she had continued trading for all but a short period last year, when the coronavirus began to spread in Australia and the lockdowns began.
“I only closed for two weeks at the end of March and then came back to work because I had a shop full of clothes and you have to keep trading,” she said.
“If we go back into lockdown the Government doesn’t have the money to keep bailing people out.”
Many people, including many traders in the mall, are proponents of returning parking and through traffic to the mall, something Carol believes is only part of the solution and that the while putting parking and through traffic access to the mall would be a positive move, the lack of direct access from Lime and Deakin Avenues is an issue.
“I think returning parking would help, but there also needs to be ways to connect to the other streets either side of the mall,” she said.
“Changes to the parking in feast street is also impacting the mall. Now that they are putting the ‘parklets’ down that end that’s cutting our parking as well.
More than 30 years ago I was working at 3MA when all of this was being redeveloped and everyone was suggesting that the mall should have been built at that end of Langtree Avenue, which would connect now with what the Council are planning for the river front access and make it alfresco dining.”
Carol said it had been a heart- wrenching decision to close Lorraine’s.
“It’s been a really hard decision to make … which I did just before Christmas, and that put a bit of a dampener on Christmas. But now I just have to get on with it and sell-out as much as I can and find a job basically,” she said.
“I employ some casual staff and they have become like family and so it is sad as well that they will be without their job.”
Lorraine’s have a closing down sale in full-swing, ahead of February’s shutting of the doors.
“It’s under way already and what probably hurts me the most is that the charities that I have contributed to over many years who won’t receive that support anymore,” Carol said.
“I still had fashion parade fundraising events planned for this year. They used to raise a lot of money for organisations including Murray House, Cancer resources, Wings for Kids, Heartbeat Sunraysia and Friends of Jacaranda.
“I used to also support charity golf days at Riverside and Mildura Golf Clubs and fashion parades for Workers Bowls Club, Red Cliffs RSL ladies and St Lukes Ladies Guild. I have prided myself on being a local person supporting locals, and that’s all going to be lost. If we lose all of these local businesses here, who is going to support our local charities and sports- the multi-nationals don’t?
“I have really enjoyed my time in the business and I have made lots of friends and that’s going to be hard and I’ve got people coming in and saying: ‘Please don’t go.'”