On Friday night, BOOM Clunes was crowned a category winner of the national Mainstreet Australia awards. Our retail and co-working space, which was opened in March this year, was praised for its agile business model which has helped it ride through the challenges associated with opening a business in a small town during a pandemic.
Mainstreet Australia Awards
“It was an exciting moment,” said Peter Chandler, Vice President of Clunes Neighbourhood House. “Many of the other initiatives being considered where part of well-funded Council programs or large town centres. To have BOOM Clunes recognised, really acknowledged all of the volunteer hours and community backing that has helped BOOM Clunes stand firmly on its feet.”
When BOOM Clunes opened, it was done with the potential impacts of the pandemic in mind, as well as the general boom and bust fluctuations that hit a small town. Interestingly, a recent study in the US showed that small towns with good stakeholder and community engagement proved more resilient during the pandemic. The importance of these connections is something Clunes has long understood and leveraged, and BOOM Clunes has been a visible example of the impact this kind of ‘working together’ can have – particularly in trying times.
“That is the really important part of this win,” said Peter, “The fact that a national awards program can see what our town has achieved, all by working at a grassroots level. Hopefully it will provide us with introductions to others who are doing similar things, or stakeholders who are interested in helping initiatives like us accelerate what we are doing.”
Doing Business the 'Clunes' Way
"To us, BOOM Clunes is just how we do business," said Lana de Kort, Chief Entrepreneur at BOOM Clunes, "But to others, it's a particularly interesting business model because it's designed to be robust when the market is slow; as well as to give back locally."
The retail shop contributes to the activity in the main street and is open Thursday – Monday 9am til 3pm each week.
Delivering Returns - Now and in the Future
“What people don’t know though, is that to date it has generated nearly $25,000 in sales for local suppliers who have been selling their products in the shop. This is in addition to the profits that return to Clunes Neighbourhood House and are reinvested into other community activities and programming locally.”
“The first year has been hard, and much of this has gone into strengthening BOOM Clunes, but in future it’ll help fund a whole host of local programs that contribute to the liveability of Clunes.”
Not only does BOOM Clunes provide a way to help local people sell their produce, but it also has another income stream that provides other professionals with a space to work, think and network. Co-working spaces like this in country towns are rare, but the extra functionality they offer people is a huge boost. The income from Co-Worker passes and the serviced offices (still one available!) helps support the costs of BOOM Clunes, but more importantly creates a culture of productivity and collaboration. Just as the shop provides returns to local people, this culture is likely to do the same in the long term – and that’s what is being recognised by this award.
So how do you get involved, or support spaces like this so they can operate long term in the community?