Howard Butchery operator Michael Blackley cares about his customers.
Howard Butchery operator Michael Blackley cares about his customers. Mitch Crawley

It pays to be nice in small town

HOWARD traders absorbed rising costs to offer locals reduced prices last year.

Howard Butchery owner Michael Blackley said he respected people in the area who were struggling financially, and priced his goods accordingly.

He said while costs were rising and profit margins had been reduced, many people in the area were doing it tough and would not spend unless value was provided.

"I've owned this business for three and a half years and last year was definitely slower," Michael said.

"I've had to absorb some of my rising costs a bit, and offer more product options than I might have done in the past.

"But people have responded and it keeps us trading."

He said as the only butcher in town, it was his responsibility to consider the financial position of customers.

He said if he was forced to close, residents in the area would be left with little, or no, alternative.

Further down William St, Howard Newsagency manager Kylie Kuskie said the town's retailers had learnt to rely on locals to survive.

She said they provided enough trade to sustain operating costs and offer owners a small wage.

She said the real bonus for traders came from visitors stopping in town from the Bruce Hwy.

"We get a lot of people either on their way to Burrum Heads, or passing down the highway stop and visit the shops - between Childers and Maryborough we are almost the only place," Kylie said.

"Probably there weren't as many visitors last year as in the past but Christmas was a positive."

Belinda Keyworth operates Howard Milk Barn on the town's main street.

She said more visitors were likely to stop in Howard this year thanks to a new area designated for nightly caravan stopovers.

She said it was a specially designed space that would offer travellers one or two day stays, which would further boost the town's economy as further tough economic times have been forecast for Queensland and the Australian economy in general.