VANA MEMBER PROFILE
Address: 85 Mount Eliza Way, Mount Eliza VIC 3930
Store Owner: Hans & Lynn van Bloemendaal
Years as a newsagent: 27+ years
You have been newsagents for a long time. What is the biggest change your business has undergone in this time?
After 18 years in the same shop on the “high street” of Mt Eliza Village we made the decision to move to Eliza Square shopping centre where Woolworths is situated. We moved from a tired and worn premises into a new modern space opposite the Woolies checkouts.
The first year was tough — people don’t like change. However as time progressed we found that customers loved the new shop and sales improved. After looking at the Woolworths offering of stationery, batteries and magazines we became more circumspect about our own offering. Why have batteries when they sell a huge range, often on special?
We moved magazines towards the rear of the shop as so many newsagents do these days and highlighted promotional and seasonal items at the front. For the first time in nearly 28 years as newsagents we had a front display window — it gets plenty of use.
What was the impact of COVID-19 on your business?
One offering we started in the old shop — helium balloons — has really taken off in the new shop, especially during COVID-19. You could probably say COVID-19 heightened awareness of our presence in the centre and how convenient it was to shop for many items in the one place. We also expanded our range of gift packaging and cards which have always been strong for us.
During 2020 we kept adapting to customer needs and wants. Anything to keep little and big people busy and content was welcomed. Toys, games, jigsaws, educational books, art/craft lines and personal pampering in the form of candles/diffusers/soaps etc. Magazine sales also increased during this time as did newspaper sales. People had time to sit down and read them.
How have you stayed involved in your community?
Over the years we have supported local sports teams, kindergartens and various other community entities. Hans was also Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for many years and instigated the twilight Christmas market which had great success as a community/family event for some years.
Any additional advice for rookie newsagents?
The only advice we would give to anyone wanting to become a newsagent is be adaptable, flexible and try new things.