High rent forces out Geraldton business

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Smiling sisters Sharon Wilkinson and Ailsa Dunne. The sisters said they investigated moving Under the Sun back to Marine Terrace, but found rent there could not be negotiated down either.
Camera IconSmiling sisters Sharon Wilkinson and Ailsa Dunne. The sisters said they investigated moving Under the Sun back to Marine Terrace, but found rent there could not be negotiated down either. Credit: Carr, Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

A retailer says high commercial rent has forced her to close a long-running Geraldton business and take up a cheaper tenancy in Perth.

After 23 years in the community, discount shop Under the Sun will officially close the first week of January.

Business owner Ailsa Dunne, 59, said her lease was ending and she needed at least a 20 per cent rent reduction to afford another term.

“The rent is too high is what it boils down to,” Ms Dunne said.

“So, we do have to move on.”

Ms Dunne first bought Marine Terrace’s old King Kong store in the mid 1990s and rebranded it.

Under the Sun moved to Northgate Shopping Centre about five years ago.

Ms Dunne’s sister, Sharon Wilkinson, has worked at the business throughout its 23 years.

She, like Ms Dunne, is emotional over the impending closure.

“All our regular customers are upset,” the 66-year-old said.

“They say I can’t believe you’re leaving, what are we going to do without you? Who are we going to talk to now?

“I love the sweet oldies that come in, sometimes they don’t want to buy anything, they just want to have a chat.

“That’s what I’ll miss the most.”

Ms Dunne first became a business owner at age 26 and previously owned two Geraldton salons.

Of the local business community at large, she said lately, retailers seemed to be in a tough spot.

“Going back 25 years ago the town was booming but it’s really taken a step back,” she said.

“The main loss is variety, especially compared to what we grew up with. It just feels like it’s disappearing.”

Ms Dunne also owns two other discount stores and a homewares shop in WA.

She hopes to sell all remaining stock in the Geraldton location over Christmas to avoid the freight expenses of moving merchandise to Perth.

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