The regional centre of Port Lincoln on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been left without a newsagency after the closure of its two newsagencies this year.
- Port Lincoln Beers newsagency has closed after almost 120 years in business
- The closure leaves Port Lincoln, with a population of almost 15,000, without a newsagency
- The closest newsagency is now 50 kilometres north in the small seaside town of Tumby Bay
NewsXpress Beers Newsagency owner Joy Whennen closed her doors on Friday after selling her business.
It had operated for almost 120 years, with Joy and her late husband David Whennen buying the beachfront shop in the 1980s.
Mrs Whennen said it was time to retire after 39 years in the business.
The building’s new owners have opted not to continue the newsagency in the city, which has a population of about 14,880 people.
It leaves only one operator on lower Eyre Peninsula, at Tumby Bay, after Port Lincoln’s Liverpool Street newsagency closed in February this year and the Cummins newsagency closed in April, 2020.
Paul Neindorf now operates the closest newsagency, 50 kilometres north of Port Lincoln in the small seaside town of Tumby Bay, which has a population of less than 3,000.
Mr Neindorf said the NewsXpress Beers closure was a sad day for Port Lincoln.
“A lot of people are going to miss it for sure,” he said.
“We’ve had people already ring up from Port Lincoln about magazines that they’ve had on subscription.
“A town like Port Lincoln, there needs to be a newsagency in Port Lincoln.”
Mr Neindorf said in addition to missing specialty magazines, Port Lincoln residents would miss the social side of going to the newsagency.
According to research conducted by Retail Doctor Group, 79 per cent of Australians shopped at newsagents annually, and one in three did so weekly,
Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association CEO Ben Kearney said newsagents had diversified their businesses to adapt to change and focus on being a community hub and concierge that offered what their local market wanted.
“And 34 per cent of Australians said they were influenced when walking past our stores, so having a physical presence and a great display, even in this digital age, can make a big difference to retailers,” Mr Kearney said.
Port Lincoln Chamber of Commerce chair Sharni-Marie Barney said she remained hopeful another newsagency would open in the town in the future but diversification would be vital.
“It is about thinking differently in this day and age, certainly a sign of customers changing how they shop and what they’re looking for in a store,” Ms Barney said.
Mrs Whennen said her business had adapted to suit the community’s needs over the years and she thought there was still a need for a newsagency in Port Lincoln.
“People will always read and we have seen an uptake of books, magazines and newspaper sales.”
Mrs Whennen said the shop had a rich history.
“When we came [in 1983], newsagencies were the hub of every town — it evolved from back in the pioneers’ days; the newspapers came out and people gathered there,” she said.
“Our newsagency still kept that old-fashioned hub of communication with people.”
Mr Kearney said the main thing that kept newsagents resilient, particularly in smaller communities, was quality human interaction and local knowledge.
“They know their store and they know what’s going on in their community,” he said.
Mrs Whennen said despite the rise of online media, magazine and book sales had remained strong.
“I have always been amazed at the amount of magazines people read,” Mrs Whennen said.
“It’s not so much the weeklies like Woman’s Day or Women’s Weekly but it’s all the little niche magazines that have special topics, this is what people buy and read.
“We had a huge collection of people who just had special hobby magazines and specialty magazines that we put away for them.
“We had over 1,000 titles that we covered.
“They were for the amateur radio person, for the gold detector person, or people into horses or people into special needle work.”
She said books had also continued in popularity.
“Children’s book sales are absolutely escalating all the time.”
The newsagency was also a place of good fortune and their store was the first in Port Lincoln to have lotto services.
There was one manual lotto machine and the line up for lotto in the shop would fill the aisles.
“Lotto was very time-consuming. It was all manual so you had to process every ticket manually,” Mrs Whennen said.
“On a Saturday morning, it was lotto morning and the aisles would be crowded with lines of people waiting.”
The newspapers were flown in from Adelaide by a plane that came in between 1am and 2am and Mrs Whennen and her husband would start their working day at 4am wrapping and delivering papers — some to unusual places.
“We supplied Neptune Island lighthouse with newspaper and goods, and then we supplied a lot of farmers all up the coast with their mailings,” Mrs Whennen said.
She operated the business for seven years after her husband David died but it was time to retire.
“My last day will be a very sad time when at 5.30 I turn the key of the front door.”
Posted , updated
ABC News (AU)