More High St malling

THE hits just keep on coming for Fremantle book lovers.

Hot on the heels of Dymocks’ closure, Elizabeth’s Secondhand Bookshop in the High Street Mall will close in August.

The outlets on South Terrace (opposite Gino’s) and on Queen Victoria Street will stay open.

Owner Elizabeth Schmitz says her High Street Mall outlet is bleeding $50,000 a year. High rents, a drop in custom due to statewide seven-day trading and the neglected state of the mall combined to convince her to call it a day.

“Alarmingly, several more retailers have indicated they are merely waiting for the end of their leases to switch off the lights,” she told the Herald.

“In the place of these real shops, some of the boarded up premises have been taken over by national mobile phone chains and an HBF office.

“Useful as they are, they do not attract the shoppers that were once the lifeblood of the mall.

“Fremantle council has no control over commercial rents, but is it not high time for a dialogue between the landlords and Freo council to formulate a plan to resuscitate the traditional attractions of the city?”

A raft of shops has left the mall in recent years, including Angus & Robertson (after the national chain went belly-up), Betts, Jay Jays and Jeans West.

Ms Schmitz, a long-time West End local who opened her first bookstore in Nedlands 40 years ago, urges the council to revive the mall’s dying trade and says its ambitious plans to transform Kings Square may come too late for many.

Mayor Brad Pettitt says the closure is “another example of the challenges that retail in Fremantle is facing but also that book retailers face globally”.

“I hope we can see the High Street Mall site filled with either a pop-up or a new store in the next month or so.”

Ms Schmitz says she’d proposed, “to the mayor some time ago the mall should be turned into a Chinatown”.

“Little restaurants like the very successful Chinatowns in Melbourne, Sydney and overseas.”

The Herald spoke to other traders. None confirmed they were set to close but almost all reported business was dire.


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