VANA MEMBER PROFILE – Tawonga South Newsagency & Post Office
Address: 221 Kiewa Valley Highway, Tawonga South, Vic, 3698
Stephen and Lynne purchased the business in 1993, which at that time included takeaway food, a newsagency and a post office. At that time, they were one of five authorised newsagencies in the Upper Kiewa Valley.
They decided to exit the food industry in 2000 to concentrate on their Post Office and Newsagency. They also built a larger shop on an adjoining block. They took a break from retail in 2009 when they sold the business. However, the couldn’t stay away and purchased the business back in 2011 when the new owners went broke.
Stephen and Lynne came into their second stint as owner/operator with a fresh mindset and a new full-time partner, Macca and decided to operate without any staff. They are now the only newagency in the Upper Kiewa Valley and supply from the ski resort of Falls Creek to Dederang. As they have a lot of artists in their area (like most country towns), they have set up an Art Department selling quality supplies which has been a highlight for them in the last ten years.
Stephen and Lynne have diversified into quality giftware as well, which is also a winner. In the last three years, they have been able to add Tattslotto to the business which has worked well for them and tends to get new customers through the door as well as being a profitable addition to the business. The old staple, magazines, is still a favourite after 28 years, sales are still increasing as opposed to newspapers. They do give a lot of space to magazines, but they are easy to manage and still sell through the age groups.
COVID has surprisingly been good for the store. During lockdowns, locals who have never ventured through their doors, instead of shopping in larger centres, have discovered quality not just in their business but other local stores and many have remained regular customers.
In their spare time, Stephen was Treasurer of Upper Kiewa Valley Lions Club for 12 years and is now in his 7th year as President of Mount Beauty Golf Club. The business also has regular weekly sponsorship of a couple of local organisations.
Stephen and Lynne’s next plan is to retire, but cannot decide when, as they are enjoying work too much.
Whilst Stephen and Lynne are very reluctant to give advice, they believe that in any business customer service is the most important aspect. Try and call your customers by name, a lot of their customers have become good friends.
Also, try not to overwork yourself. Remember to make plans to have time off even if only 2 days per week and work to enjoy life. Making a fortune, especially in a small country town is not always going to happen, but you can have fun and survive. They were burnt out when they sold the first time, but with a different outlook, work is now enjoyable.