Small businesses continue to display initiative to overcome challenges posed by ongoing lockdowns.
Operators are doing their best to stimulate trade and to stay afloat.
They are also enormously appreciative of vital community support.
Stewart's Bakery bosses have had their ups and downs over the years, but they have never faced anything like COVID. Despite this, Marg and Noel Stewart remain resilient.
While the 32-year-old business has been affected by the loss of wholesale customers, including football clubs and schools, it has adopted new ways to survive.
"We have adapted by introducing a home delivery service, Facebook advertising, and providing weekly specials," Mrs Stewart said.
The Stewarts are indebted to their loyal customers, imploring the community to maintain its desire to help.
"We have been overwhelmed with the support," Mrs Stewart said. "Continue to support small business. By doing this, we are keeping locals employed."
The proprietor of Ballarat's sole comic book store, a business which relies on local, interstate, and international trade, has refused to lie down.
Jeannine Le Vaillant's niche shop has been hit hard by lockdowns.
"The longer the lockdown, the bigger the effect on business." Ms Le Valliant said. "Income drops by 90% through lockdowns."
To remain viable, Ms Le Valliant has implemented a number of strategies.
"(We have) reduced stock purchases; offered local deliveries to regular customer accounts and online orders; introduced options for our standing order customers by way of payment plans and invoices; and attempted to hold a positive and flexible mindset," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS
Using technology has been absolutely essential for the business.
"(We have) placed more stock onto online, increased stock on the ebay store, and continued live Facebook shows highlighting incoming shipments," Ms Le Vaillant said.
Ms Le Valliant knows that the region's small businesses are in this crisis together.
CITY OVAL HOTEL
The City Oval Hotel is committed to fighting back, mindful of the employees who are reliant on regular paychecks.
Publican Robert Gayton is determined to continue to operate.
"The good thing about staying open it gives us something to do," Mr Gayton said. "I am rotating staff just to give everyone a shift. We are just covering wages with the income from takeaways sales. The staff are enjoying being able to feel useful."
For Mr Gayton, necessity is the mother of invention.
He has implemented numerous initiatives, including using a van to promote a takeaway 'Pint and Parma' deal.
"We are also doing takeaway antipasto, dessert platters, and cocktails. Bring your own clean container and we will fill it with tap beer. Spend over $70 on takeaway and go in draw to win a bottle of wine."
Mr Gayton has refused to surrender to the global health situation.
"Hospitality is all about looking after our guests and customers," he said. "It is what keeps me going."
THE LITTLE CUPCAKE
According to the co-owner of The Little Cupcake, business has been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways.
"The biggest impact on us has been on the event side. Pre-COVID, people had weddings, birthdays, engagements, and parties of all shapes and sizes," Madeleine Witham said. "Every weekend would see us catering for hundreds of guests. This has completely stopped."
Mrs Witham and her husband Mark have had to think outside the circle to continue to operate.
"We have become more savvy," she said. "The delivery side of our business is the core business of lockdown. We use our large social media presence to our advantage. We ran our 'Random Act of Cupcakes' where customers donated boxes of cupcakes that went out to people who needed a lift and some joy."
The Little Cupcake remains committed to, and appreciative of, its clientele.
"The Ballarat community has been amazing," Mrs Witham said. "People are continuing to order cupcakes and cakes for birthdays and celebrations for people in lockdown. (They are) also sending boxes just to cheer up a family."
"We are very thankful to the wonderful community, (keeping) our business alive."
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