The Work Basket faces closure amid Bakery Hill works

ICONIC Ballarat wool business The Work Basket may have to close after 50 years due to Bakery Hill works, according to owner Thelma Anstis.

Since she moved to new Bridge Mall premises a few months ago, Mrs Anstis has seen her once thriving business grind to a halt.

“It upset me a bit. I didn’t realise my first winter was going to be wiped out,” Mrs Anstis said.

“I sold two buttons one day and a ball of wool the next.”

The Bakery Hill redevelopment project began in August and will transform the area into an open square with grassed areas, trees, street furniture and ornamental lighting.

Car parking is also being reallocated and the rotunda moved to Kirks Reservoir.

Mrs Anstis, who bought the business 25 years ago, moved to Bakery Hill after the Mair Street building that originally housed the shop was sold.

A section of Sportsbiz was sectioned off to allow The Work Basket to set up at the very end of the Bridge Mall instead.

“It was a thriving business. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Mrs Anstis said.

“But now I’ve just had it. October was wiped out. November was wiped out. My accountant tells me I have too much stock to just close, but I’m seriously thinking about selling it or closing it.”

The footpath outside The Work Basket has yet to be sealed and heavy machinery has been in use around the area, with Mrs Anstis closing the shop for the past fortnight rather than have her customers get hurt.

“A lot of my customers are elderly and are on sticks or frames. I wouldn’t do it (walk on the footpath) and I wouldn’t like my people to do it.”

She has also cancelled weekly night knitting classes due to a lack of lighting and parking near the shop.

Mrs Anstis said customers had told her she can’t close the store, which was originally owned by Val Packham and Glenys Ronaldson.

“I have 36 messages on the phone today that I’m still to listen to. People say it’s a Ballarat icon and it can’t close down, but it’s really stressing me out.”

A Ballarat City Council spokesperson said contractors had provided staff to escort customers in and out of affected stores to ensure they were not troubled by any uneven surfaces.

They also said council had worked with contractors to minimise disruption.

“Throughout the works, all access has remained open during trading hours,” the spokesperson said.

Footpath and roadworks are expected to be finished by Friday, with some minor landscaping and aesthetic works to be done to complete the project. Temporary fencing will also remain in place to protect new turf areas.

fiona.henderson@thecourier.com.au

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