Uniting Ballarat chief answers closure of furniture store

New location not closure

News of the closure of the renowned Albert Street furniture store has brought widespread reaction form volunteers and the public

News of the closure of the renowned Albert Street furniture store has brought widespread reaction form volunteers and the public

Regarding the story  'Beloved op shop to close' (The Courier, 13 January), it is heartening to see the support and passion for not-for-profit stores within Ballarat.

However I wish to respond to a number of points. 

We have proposed a significant change which will see our Furniture Shop relocate to La Trobe Street, Delacombe as part of a much larger strategic process looking at how we can continue to serve the people of Ballarat well into the future.

The shop will move and there will be some changes to how it is run and stocked, but it is not being closed.

We acknowledge that for some of our staff, volunteers and customers, this change will come as a shock.  

Our retail stores are a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to supporting Ballarat people living life on the margins. 

The stores provide an independent stream of income for programs such as Lifeline and our Breezeway Meal Program which enable us to make a difference within the community.

We also use funding from the stores to support other crisis services, such as homelessness services. 

In order to continue funding these important services, we need to make sure the retail outlets we operate are sustainable in the long-term and meet the needs of the modern day consumer.

Uniting Ballarat, in consultation with the Ballarat Centre Uniting Church Council, has been considering how best to achieve that. 

The Furniture Shop has focused primarily on selling second-hand furniture and antique items.

In 2016-17 the Furniture Shop made significantly less profit than was reported in your article and it incurs substantial overheads which are increasing each year.

The shop is heavily reliant on furniture purchased at auction in Melbourne, with less than 5 % of monthly sales generated from donated items.

Purchasing furniture not only reduces the profit margin, but also reduces the number of items that were of use for our clients.

It is also a highly competitive specialist market, one in which Uniting Ballarat cannot compete sustainably.

Uniting Ballarat has a unique opportunity to create a store that has a combination of furniture, clothing, books and homewares at a new location in Delacombe.

A larger format store has the potential to provide a better source of revenue for essential programs as well as provide a one-stop-shop for the Ballarat community when shopping for second-hand items. 

The south west corridor of Ballarat is an area under immense strain as an increasing population places pressure on jobs and services and many families struggling with the increased cost of living.

Supporting people across our community and providing services to these developing areas of Ballarat is an important responsibility which Uniting Ballarat intends to embrace.

We would like to sincerely thank our volunteers and staff for their tireless work in our current retail outlets along with the Ballarat community for their support.

We are committed to involving them more closely in decisions around our new strategic direction. 

Our new store is scheduled to open next month and we hope the people of Ballarat will continue to support both Lifeline and the Breezeway Meal Program by shopping and/or volunteering at the new location. 

Sean Duffy, Executive Officer, Uniting Ballarat

Easily accesible and sadly missed

I am saddened and disappointed to hear that the Uniting Ballarat Furniture Shop cnr Dana & Albert Sts, is to close at the end of January 2018. This outreach store opened on 18th October, 1996 and has provided funding for Breezeway and many other unfunded programmes for Uniting Ballarat, for over 20 years. This small, friendly and ever-changing store, run mainly by volunteers will be missed in this easily accessible precinct.

​​Louise Davidson, Ballarat