TRADERS near the old Myer building in Fremantle say business has plummeted ever since the retail giant closed its doors in January.
Myer ended its 40-year relationship with the port city because of sluggish sales. The building is to be part of Fremantle council’s ambitious $220 million redevelopment of Kings Square, but remains empty for the forseeable future.
Traders say the facelift can’t come soon enough in order to attract shoppers to the wilting East End.
Dock Fresh Fish Seafood Cafe owner Sam Eoannidis says trade is down 30 per cent since Myer closed.
“There is less people talking and hanging around and nothing will happen till that gets done,” he says, pointing to Kings Square.
“The city centre is pretty dead. Early in the week it is very slow.”
Tropicana Cafe owner Mike Valente says he used to get 20-30 regulars from Myer each day, including staff.
“I want to open Sundays but nobody is here,” he says. “This end of town is getting worse, because there is nothing here for people.
“Nothing has really been down around here since the America’s Cup.
“They have all these ideas now, but one or two buildings every couple of years, this would really help.”
Mr Valente says Deckchair Theatre closing had also affected business (Victoria Hall is a few doors down). “Different artists used to come here all the time,” he says.
Pongee owner Andrea Leadabrand, who has been at the corner of High and Queen Streets for 14 years, says less traffic is coming across the road.
“I didn’t think it would affect me, being a recycled clothes and vintage shop, but it has,” she says.
“One or two of my customers have told me they don’t come this way since Myer closed.
“Fremantle has been getting quieter and quieter, so they better get this thing going fast, otherwise it will end up being a white elephant in the middle of the city.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER