21 January 2022

'We've lost the war': burnt out Mogo businesses close down

| Tom McGann
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Allison Thompson and Lexi Nunn

Allison Thompson (left) and Lexi Nunn (right) keep smiling despite the ominous circumstances for their respective Mogo businesses. Photo: Tom McGann.

Burnt out Mogo businesses were given a second chance when a temporary mall was built in the small bushfire-affected town on the NSW South Coast to allow them to continue operating.

However, two years on from the Black Summer, some feel the final nail is being hammered into the coffin, with the mall – located next to Mogo Day Surgery – now being taken away.

Most surviving businesses using the mall have had no choice but to close down or move to working from home.

The use of the mall was supposed to allow enough time for all businesses using the temporary solution to rebuild. However, two years on, only one shop is currently being built.

The mall will be dismantled on 31 January, 2022, with the remaining two businesses having to vacate three days prior.

My Little Boutique owner Lexie Nunn, and Allison Thompson from Allison Thompson Accounting and Taxation are the two final businesses in the temporary mall, with both businesses feeling defeated.

Lexie says she has no choice but to close her Mogo business because rebuilding after the bushfires devolved from being a realistic way forward to becoming impossible.

READ ALSO Almost two years on, have the Black Summer bushfires changed how we think?

“I just have to close down,” she says.

“I’ve missed three Christmases now – this mall is dead, no-one comes here. We’ve lost the war.”

Lexie stresses that despite public health orders allowing them to open during the recent Christmas holidays, tourists simply used the area to park before moving into the shops on the main street.

“The simple fact is we were forgotten, and no-one really cares,” she says.

“There are some days when people will come in and check out my stuff, but a lot of days there’s really no point even opening.”

Lexie has managed to sell the majority of her remaining stock through major sales, and anything she has not sold will be for sale online after officially closing her store.

Empty My Little Boutique store in Mogo

My Little Boutique in Mogo is closing down, with most of its stock now gone. Photo: Tom McGann.

Allison is Lexie’s next door neighbour at the mall, with her accountancy firm also feeling exhausted.

While she has been running her business out of the temporary mall, her situation is not as dire as Lexie’s.

“Most of my clients are from Sydney, Northern Territory, all around the place,” says Allison.

“I could run my business from home if I had to, but it’s hard because I have kids so it isn’t easy working from home as an accountant when you have to help them as well.”

Allison will not be closing down as she will be moving into a rebuilt store, located at 21 Sydney Street in Mogo. It is currently the only burnt down store on that street being rebuilt.

“After two years, why is there only one shop being rebuilt?” says Allison.

New shop in Mogo being rebuilt

A new store being rebuilt at 22 Sydney Street in Mogo that will house multiple businesses, including Allison Thompson Accounting and Taxation. Photo: Tom McGann.

Says Lexie: “We should all be back on that street by now. Why should I have to close down? The fires are a thing of the past but there are still people in our position.”

While Lexie and Allison prepare to leave, every other business which utilised the temporary Mogo mall has closed down, with Roman Leather Goods relocating to another temporary set-up.

While Allison will continue running her business, Lexi is taking 12 months off.

“I am so mentally drained,” she says.

“I need a year off so I can spend time with my granddaughter and put this all behind me.”

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Sylvia Bryant6:02 pm 23 Jan 22

I’m really sad that this had to happen and more patience towards difficult circumstances has not been offered to them.

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