New businesses opening in Ararat despite pandemic

From hospitality hot spots to passion projects, locals are finding their feet in Ararat’s new business scene. Twenty-four new business owners have registered in Ararat in 2020, showing signs of confidence are returning to Ararat’s small business community.

Ararat Rural City Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison said business owners are a vital part of our community and we’re thrilled to see business owners invest in our economy.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted our lives, both on a personal and professional level, but I am continually impressed with acts of innovation and resilience from our business community,” Dr Harrison said.

“While the small business sector has been hit dramatically by the effects of COVID-19, we have no doubt they will be a major contributor to bringing Australia’s economy back on track.

Commenting on Melbourne’s reopening to regional Victoria as part of the state roadmap, Dr Harrison said Ararat is ready to welcome back visitors so our local businesses can benefit.

“Over the past few months, council officers have worked to implement a seamless process for businesses to reopen under current restrictions. We’re proud to have helped over 20 businesses attain permits and expand their outdoor dining offering.

“Melbournians coming out of the lockdown are looking for somewhere with the freedom to get outdoors. The local economy would benefit from an influx of city dwellers to come and enjoy where the real lifestyle opportunities are.

“In saying this, the safety of our community is the Council’s top priority. Our local businesses have worked really hard to ensure they’re carrying out COVID-safe practices, including new cleaning schedules and capacity restrictions to keep both locals and tourists safe. It’s important that continues as we get more freedom.”

First-time business owner Zac Nunan said it was an ideal time to launch his pop culture store, Trading with Zac, in Ararat which specialises in a variety of games, collectibles and clothing.

“There’s a lack of gaming and hobby options in Ararat – now more than ever, young people are looking for more to do,” Mr Nunan said.

Dr Harrison continued “The good thing about having a physical store is that people can get a feel of the product range, from retro to new games, collectables and clothing, and they can also find something new. There’s just no substitute for browsing collectables.

“Ararat must get behind new businesses following what has been a really tough year for many. I’d love to see the community consider local independent stores over the larger chains and online retail giants, especially if you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift this year.

“This is a really important way to give to those who have invested in our community and are giving local people jobs a major shot in the arm.”

Opening this week is Ararat’s first Asian grocery store House of Nai. Owner Nai Otte said people today have a willingness to experiment with new flavours and culinary experiences at home.

“Since moving from Taiwan to Ararat just over five years ago, I have wanted to share my love of Asian cuisine with everyone in Ararat,” Ms Otte said.

“The pandemic showed that Ararat has a rich and diverse love of Asian food and not being able to get them locally has been a real challenge.

“Our goal is to bring the taste of Asia to the Ararat region by supplying the flavours and ingredients necessary for people to enjoy the experience at home. We will have a mixture of fresh vegetables, spices, refrigerated and frozen goods and a variety of grocery items.”

Greater Ararat Business Network president Maria Whitford is encouraging the community to get out and support local businesses across the region.

“Community support for a local shop goes a long way in revitalising our local community spirit,” Ms Whitford said.

“When we spend locally, it goes back into our community. Local businesses create jobs, supportive networks and donate more to community groups and charities.

“Let’s ensure our region bounces back not just economically but also stronger together,” Ms Whitford concluded.

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