3 November 2021

Changes for Goulburn CBD as vacancies decrease, but some businesses close doors

| Albert McKnight
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Rachel Khoo and Tân Nguyễn at NỘI Goulburn

Rachel Khoo and Tân Nguyễn are the co-owners of NỘI Goulburn, which has opened in the town’s CBD. Photo: Supplied.

It has been a challenging time for local businesses across Australia during the past two years, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on many.

In Goulburn, while some shops have sadly been forced to close, the vacancy rate in the town’s CBD has actually decreased.

A Goulburn Mulwaree Council spokesperson said its recent CBD vacancy audit showed vacancies across the CBD reduced between June and September 2021 from 10.6 per cent to 9.5 per cent.

A number of businesses closed their doors likely due to the effects of COVID-19, while two properties that converted to residential buildings also affected the audit numbers.

“The good news is we are seeing new businesses opening up, and despite the tough past three months, our vacancies in the CBD have actually reduced,” said Goulburn Mulwaree Council Mayor Bob Kirk.

“NỘI Vietnamese, Hampton Love, Brow Lounge and Pacific Smiles Dental are all new businesses which have opened during the past couple of months.

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“When walking down the main street, we can see preparations are also underway for Linen House, Marima Medical Clinic and Silly Solly’s to open in the near future, which is positive.”

Mayor Kirk said unfortunately there were also recent closures, such as Saltwater Dream and Kicks Footwear, and he knew it had been a difficult time for many businesses in the region.

The Brow Lounge is a beauty salon specialising in brows, owned by Julie-Anne Wray.

Born and bred in Goulburn, she returned to the town after running a beauty business in Canberra as she thought it was time to come home.

“Besides, rent is much cheaper here,” she said.

Julie-Anne Wray

Born and bred in Goulburn, Julie-Anne Wray has returned to the town to run The Brow Lounge. Photo: Supplied.

More recently, she moved her salon to the CBD from another location in Goulburn, and said by being at the new location in front of Goulburn Square mall her business has probably tripled.

Ms Wray was only open there for 10 weeks before COVID-19 shut down her salon for nine weeks, but she doesn’t think the pandemic’s restrictions had too much impact on her.

“To be honest, I’ll probably come back bigger, stronger and faster from this so at this point I don’t think it’s affected me that much,” she said.

Another new business in the CBD is NỘI Goulburn which started serving Vietnamese street food just a couple of days after the second COVID-19 lockdown commenced.

Co-owner Rachel Khoo said she and her husband, Tân Nguyễn, opened in Goulburn because they wanted to share the beauty of their cultures with the community. Rachel is Malaysian-Chinese and Tân is of Vietnamese descent.

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“We wanted to offer something different, especially at a time when people are unable to travel due to the unfortunate pandemic circumstances,” she said.

“We had customers coming by, reminiscing of their travel through Asia after trying our food and beverages. And many enjoyed it for the first time in their lives and became our wonderful regulars.”

Ms Khoo said due to the COVID-19 lockdown they could not offer dine-in when they first opened and only provided takeaway food, but felt “very blessed” they had a large amount of orders by that means.

“We couldn’t hire due to COVID-19 restrictions of the number of people per square metre,” she said. “But many of our staff have risen to the occasion and we are hiring more now.”

A council spokesperson said a significant redevelopment is underway at Goulburn Marketplace, which will increase the shopping centre from 11 to 17 available spaces for lease. But it is unclear whether tenants have been secured for each of these.

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