Did Kmart kill city centre retail?
IT'S been one year since the much anticipated launch of Kmart in Coffs Central when an excited crowd rushed the doors eager to get their hands on opening specials and free cupcakes.
While many shoppers were jumping for joy, just like the actors featured in the distinctively upbeat Kmart commercials, others were predicting doom and gloom and the end of retail in the city centre.
Big W and Best & Less were early casualties on the road to make way for the budget retail juggernaut which proudly proclaims, "Low prices on everyday items" .
With more than 175 stores across the country, Kmart isn't exactly the new kid on the block when it comes to retail, but they have certainly taken the budget home-wares market to new levels in the past two years.
"It's been a good 12 months overall," said Danielle East, Operations Manager, Kmart Coffs Harbour.
"We have traded well and met our business plans with our 'Home' department definitely being our most popular.
"Our shoppers are very much a family demographic, along with a lunch time rush of CBD workers, and the 'Home' department has high appeal for them."
Kmart's kitchen, decor and home-ware budget brands take inspiration from the more luxurious labels and offer them at affordable price points. The lower prices make it easier to change looks with the seasons and stay on-trend without spending a bomb. Combine this business strategy with smart online spin and Facebook shares which saw a white, tassled Kmart boho scatter cushion selling for $8 become the most coveted cushion in the land, and it's easy to understand why the shelves need contrast restocking.
So has the local home-wares market taken a hit since Kmart came to town?
Zab Design and Harbour Emporium have both closed since Kmart opened. These two local businesses were in Harbour Dr a few doors down from Coffs Central and specialised in home decor and kitchen items.
On the flip side, Janggalay, Martin Emporium, Art Eclectic and Serendipity, all selling home wares, decor and art at a range of price points, have all recently opened in the CBD.
Maybe it's a case of you get what you pay for and whether you prefer "cheap and cheerful" with minimum service or "lovely and lux" with the personal touch, the Coffs Coast retail market has grown to be able to accommodate all tastes and budgets.