Owners forced to close food shop
AN exorbitant electricity bill and more price hikes ahead are forcing new Bonville Fresh owners Kylie and Brett McDougall to close the doors of their popular fruit and vegetable business.
Having bought the business last November and re-invigorated it with new energy, great produce and Fresh Fish Fridays, the West Australian couple say they were just starting to pay themselves a small wage.
But the arrival of a $5000 quarterly power bill last week completely shattered their dreams.
Worse, having just installed a Smart Meter, turned off one of their cool rooms and turned down the air-conditioning, the couple did not see the huge slug coming.
“The Country Energy bloke who installed the Smart Meter assured us we'd save about $1100 a quarter,” Mr McDougall said.
“We'd already organised to pay regular instalments to stay on top of our previous electricity bill and we thought things were just starting to turn the corner but this changes everything.
“With another 20 per cent increase coming in July, we'd need to double our business to stay afloat.”
Mr McDougall said increasing prices was not an option because people just turn away and head to Woolworths and Coles.
The tiny Bonville community is also devastated.
Resident Alan Melbourne dropped in early on Sunday morning to ask the couple to delay the closure.
“We are very upset to see this happening,” Mr Melbourne said.
“I've written to Greg Combet and Origin Energy plus our local members of parliament to see what they can do.
“We are seeing the death of the corner store, first by the supermarkets and now by the electricity companies.
“We don't want to lose either this shop or Kylie and Brett – it'll be the death of our little village.”
Mrs McDougall said the family had arrived from Perth looking for a better life and poured everything into the business.
“We can't afford to lose any more money – as it is we are selling our second car and our caravan to get through this.
“It's really sad and there have been lots of tears but we've made this decision now.”
Mrs McDougall said she felt terrified the family might be forced to move to the city to look for work but a silver lining had appeared.
Loyal customers have rallied and Mrs McDougall has already been offered a job.
Mr McDougall is looking at starting an adult electrician's apprenticeship.
There will be 20% off everything at Bonville Fresh all this week before the doors close on Friday.