Sunshine Coast businesses are fighting back against the economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, thinking outside the square, diversifying and pivoting, doing whatever they can to ride out this difficult time. While most of us are doing it tough, our business community is pulling together to make the best of a bad situation. Sadly, many businesses have closed or gone into hibernation for the time being. Some businesses are reporting a large increase in turnover, while others are struggling but taking each day as it comes with a positive mindset. We talk to three Coast businesses to see how they’re managing.
Onyx Poppy Boutique, Chancellor Park Village Boulevard, Sippy Downs
Michele O’Flanagan is the owner of Onyx Poppy clothing boutique in Chancellor Village. She has a loyal clientele, which continues to support her, but she has made a few changes to diversify and roll with the times.
“This has really affected me big time, as I’m not getting the walk-in trade I’d normally have, but I’m a very positive person,” she says.
“I’m a little bit fortunate in that I went online maybe four moths ago. I had a few items I thought I’d put online, so I have been frantically busy the last two weeks adding more items to my online store through Shopify. Now, virtually all my stock is online and I’m offering home delivery within a 10-kilometre radius of the shop.”
Onyx Poppy is still opening each day from 10am to 3pm, and Ms O’Flanagan says the occasional customer pops in, which is permitted as the store is large and strict hygiene practices are in place.
“People need contact so they might just wave or stop for a chat,” she says. “The odd person will come in and have a look, but I only allow four in at a time. We’ve got hand sanitisers, masks, wipes and gloves and are following all the guidelines the government has put in place.
“We’re not going anywhere, we’re just staying here and marketing ourselves a little differently. I send out emails to my customers to let them know what’s happening and people are also buying through our Facebook page.
“Our landlord is offering to delay our rent for three to six months, but the only concern with that is you have to pay it back at some stage. But at least it’s going to help over this period of time.”
Psari Seafood Bar & Grill, Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba
Mariska Iykannis and husband Emmanuel opened their stunning restaurant specialising in seafood and Greek food only six months ago, so the current situation has hit them hard. However, they’re still opening six days a week and the loyal clientele they have built quickly is continuing to support them.
“It’s going okay,” says Mrs Iykannis. “It’s not doing the best, but we’re still doing takeaways and we’re getting there; it’s getting busier every week. We’ve got Uber and Deliveroo starting this week and we’re open six days a week, from Monday to Saturday.”
The couple also has three children so Sunday is their only day with the kids. They’re juggling the business with the kids being at home with the help of Mrs Iykannis’ mum.
“If we keep getting support, we should be okay to make it through and start back up,” she says. “People keep coming back because our food is amazing and everyone says it’s something different. It’s fresh seafood with a Greek influence and our most popular dishes are our seafood platter and our lobster mornay.”
Psari Seafood Bar & Grill takes orders online and via email or phone and they’ve set up a makeshift drive through at the back of the Brisbane Road restaurant.
“People can drive through and we’ll bring the food to the car,” Mrs Iykannis says. “We’re still doing our whole menu but also offering moussaka and frozen meals, lasagnes and family meal packs. We’re doing little things we don’t normally do, just quick and easy meals you can heat up.”
IQ Shutters, premier circuit, warana
Vincent Chua from IQ Shutters says his order bank is sustaining his business for the time being, but appointments are beginning to be cancelled and the new enquiry rate has dropped. Work on construction sites continues, but enquiries by people who would ordinarily be ordering plantation shutters and blinds for their homes has dropped off, as they are wary of tradespeople entering their home.
“I think we’re only getting about 20 per cent of what we normally get, if we’re lucky,” Mr Chua says. “While we are still sitting quite well currently, unless the enquiries and sales continue to come in, it will definitely affect our future turnover and profitability. That might happen by about May or so.
“Compared to some other businesses, I think we’re doing reasonably well, but nobody can anticipate what’s going to happen in three or four weeks’ time. If we don’t get new contracts, we might be potentially hit quite badly.”
Mr Chua has been operating IQ Shutters for 10 years and says this is the biggest challenge he has faced.
“It is so unpredictable and I don’t wish to speculate. The only difference is that I am a strong believer in Jesus Christ, so my faith is carrying me through and believing that God will come through one way or another. So far, he has proven himself to be faithful in providing the things we need.”