The support of the Bridgetown community has proved vital for the survival of many of the town’s businesses during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

But while many have struggled through the economic downturn induced by social isolation some Bridgetown businesses have enjoyed brisk business and increased sales.

Paul Doust, manager of Mitre 10/Retravision, said the pandemic has been a boon for his business.

“We’re in front and I’m definitely feeling a bit of guilt and shame that everyone else is worse off than we are,” Mr Doust said.

The initial stages of the pandemic saw panic buying of vegetable seedlings, seeds and potting mix which resulted in shortages with the shop struggling to keep up with demand.

But while many were keen to get a little dirt on their hands in the garden others were keen on redecorating, with paint also in strong demand.

TVs, bread makers and freezers were also moving out the door in big numbers.

Down the road at the Bridgetown Newsagency a drop in sales was partly offset by strong demand for home schooling supplies and lotto tickets.

Board games, puzzles and magazines proved popular for those at home in isolation. Replenishing supplies has also been a problem, with jigsaw puzzles out of stock, according to owner, Hayley Thorpe.

She’s very grateful for the support of the Bridgetown community throughout the crisis.

“People are still awesome!” she said.

Hayley Thorpe from the Bridgetown Newsagency

Supply problems

With normal supply chains under strain replenishing stock has been a problem for many business owners, including Bridgetown Computers’ Jarad Basterfield.

With so many people working from home and needing computer equipment business has been good.

“I’ve had a captive audience of customers who can’t go elsewhere,” he said.

Cafes go takeaway

Social isolation rules have seen Bridgetown’s cafes turning to takeaways to keep business ticking along.

Ronan Mcphilemy, owner of the Mulberry Tree, shut down his café for seven weeks and found it stressful.

“The scariest bit was the unknown, I suppose, I didn’t know if I was going to open again,” he said.

He’s grateful for his landlord’s help with the rent. The Mulberry Tree opened again for take-aways only but started sit-down meals again on May 11.

With many West Aussies travelling again and sales returning to normal the good times are back again for the Mulberry Tree.

Barking Cow owner, Paul Duggan, said his shop closed during the initial outbreak over Easter, resulting in big losses. However, business has since “ticked along” and he greatly appreciates the support of local customers.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Megan Fletcher, owner of The Flying Duck next door.

Ready-made take-home meals have been popular at The Flying Duck, with coffee also selling well. A “pay it forward” coffee scheme where people buy coffee for others have seen up to 30 cups moving out the door at a time.

“Take-away has been enjoyable and easier,” she said.

Megan Fletcher from The Flying Duck Cafe

The crew from The Barking Cow Cafe

Hard work

However, enjoyable and easier is not a description you’ll hear from Angela Nicholas, owner of the Bridgetown Loft Artisan Boutique.

“It’s been difficult, she said, “Many have come in for a chat and I felt it was our job to stay open for people”

Bridgetown Loft’s online store has helped filled the gap in sales, but it’s been hard work “hammering” social media each day to prevent sales from dropping off.

When the borders opened her business picked up, however, with people keen to get out and spend.

Her experience is typical of businesses relying on tourists and long weekends to thrive in Bridgetown.

With restrictions now easing there’s hope that the worst of the downturn may be behind us.