ANOTHER iconic Bakery Hill retailer could close as a series of road works at the precinct stretches into the 18th month and pushes traders to the brink.
The Work Basket owner Thelma Anstis said the 50-year-old wool shop was in trouble, with whole days going by without one customer walking through the door.
Mrs Anstis said since the first Bakery Hill redevelopment works, the area was like a “minefield” with road closures, footpaths dug up and heavy machinery operating right out the front of her shop.
It comes after well-known Ballarat clothing store Rokk 66 announced its closure last week as a result of tough economic times combined with the road works.
The most recent interruption has seen a section of Peel Street closed off, blocking the route to the Ms Anstis’ store.
“This has been a wool shop in Ballarat for 50 years and I’ve been here 25 years,” she said.
“I’ve never had times like this. No one can get into my (car) parks.”
Mrs Anstis moved to Bakery Hill in September 2011 after the Mair Street building that originally housed the shop was sold.
Before the move, business was thriving, Mrs Anstis said.
Last year marked the shop’s 50th anniversary but, instead of celebrating, she closed for a fortnight rather than have her customers, many of them on sticks and walking frames, get hurt on the unsealed footpath and work site out the front.
Yesterday, traditionally one of the biggest trading days of the week for retailers, the area remained blocked off at Peel Street.
Skin, Ski and Surf owner John O’Neill also said it was affecting business, describing one day last week as a “ghost town” after the intersection was shut off.
He said external factors had led to delay after delay, pushing the estimated completion date from April out to the end of October.
“The last couple of days, they’re cutting things with cutters, there’s dust flying around,” he said.
“The guys doing the road works have been fantastic, but there have been external factors that have slowed them down.”
He said the works to beautify the area were needed and should benefit traders once completed, but there would be a lot of business currently suffering.
City of Ballarat Infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said the council received a state government grant to complete the most recent works in Peel Street, which had been requested over many years by both road users and traders in the area.
Independent of this, Central Highlands Water also carried out works late last year and early this year, he said.
He said the works would create a more attractive entrance point to the Bridge Mall and the CBD.