End of an era for hardware in Bellingen

Shaun Green is closing Bellingen General Hardware at 54 Hyde St

Shaun Green is closing Bellingen General Hardware at 54 Hyde St

Next week, Shaun Green will shut the doors of Bellingen General Hardware for the last time and take a well-earned break.

He's been running it on his own, apart from some unpaid help from family, since conditions got tough a few years ago and then failed to get better.

"I can't afford to pay wages. The last 12 to 18 months I haven't even paid myself very much," he said.

The closure will leave the town with no hardware store.

Asked if he thought the Bunnings phenomenon was to blame for the decline of his business, Shaun said that was only part of it.

"It's a combination of things. There's the Bunnings advertising power. They've been doing it for 20 years and they've indoctrinated a generation.

"It's not just Bunnings, it's Big W, it's Kmart, its the Reject Shop. All the big players."

He nominates the main street beautification process as the first of a series of disruptions that have caused permanent changes to shopping behaviours.

"It wasn't just the loss of the parking, when they were doing the pavers you couldn't even walk down the footpath," he said.

"That's when it started going bad. Because people get into habits, they started going into Toormina and Coffs Harbour. And since then, you've had the drought. Bush fires. Before COVID started we had the water restrictions, which meant people weren't doing gardening.

"Then COVID, which made a lot of things difficult to get. There was a limited supply of stock coming into the country.

"Things were harder to get, more expensive. A lot of people started shopping online. Habits are formed, and they just keep doing it."

Shaun bought the shop from Jim and Kathryn Hunt at the end of 2015, after working with them for for six months. Before that, he'd been at Norco Rural in Bellingen for seven years.

Asked if he regretted the purchase, he said not at all.

"I've learned heaps. I've made a lot of good friends and industry contacts. This has been part of my journey, everything happens for a reason."

He's particularly enjoyed helping people with their projects and wants to thank the community for their support over the years and encourage them to shop locally as much as possible.

The closing down sale has been running for almost a fortnight, so there's not a lot of stock left apart from small stuff like nuts, bolts and nails, but everything there is at 50 per cent off.

Shaun expects the shop's last day will be February 23.

He intends to stay in Bellingen but is not sure what comes next, apart from having a rest.