D-day: Businesses told when they must leave Kern Arcade

Time is fast running out for Rowan Scoffin to find a new home for his business after he received a notice today advising he must vacate his premises in Kern Arcade by the end of January 2021.

He was already on the hunt for a new location after the shock announcement earlier this month that the arcade in Rockhampton’s CBD would close in the New Year - but he never expected it would happen so soon.

Mr Scoffin took ownership about nine years ago of Scoffins Clocks and Watches, a family-owned business which has operated in the Kern Arcade for 18 years.

A social media post on December 10 revealed that three iconic Kern Arcade stores - Coopers, Propaganda and The Arcade Outlet - would close after the New Year.

READ: Iconic Rockhampton stores to close after 66 years

A day later, the owners of the four other existing businesses - Scoffins, Arcade News and Casket, Blue Leaf Takeaway and Downtown Diva – were told the arcade would also close in 2021.

READ: Shocked business owners speak out about Kern Arcade’s future

The owners of Arcade News and Downtown Diva received notices similar to Mr Scoffin’s today. The Morning Bulletin cannot confirm if Blue Leaf Takeaway received one.

Mr Scoffin wants to stay in East St but says the rent, which in some cases is as much as $1000 a week, makes that highly unlikely.

“I was thinking (it would happen) about Easter,” he said.

“That’s not finishing trading on January 30, that’s everything’s got to be out by January 30.

“I’m going to have to get my skates on but it’s just a little bit of a problem because everyone I ring up is on holidays.

“I’ve seen one or two good shops but no one’s answering the calls.

“I’m hoping I can trade until the 30th and then get my stuff out because I don’t even know where I’m going yet.”

Scoffins Clocks and Watches in the Kern Arcade in Rockhampton's CBD.
Scoffins Clocks and Watches in the Kern Arcade in Rockhampton's CBD.

He said it was too profitable to close and at age 49, he was too young to retire.

Mr Scoffin said the arcade closure was compounded by the fact he withdrew $20,000 from his superannuation to do a refit of the shop during the COVID-enforced shutdown.

“I’m not very happy because it’s all happened very suddenly but what can I do?” he said.

“I wouldn’t have gone ahead with the refit if I’d had any idea that they were thinking of closing.

“I was closed half of March, April and May and re-opened in early June but the thing is since COVID, I’m up about 37 per cent and we’re still closing at 2.30pm.

“I have to relocate because the business has been going too well to close it.

“I’ve been looking in East St because there’s an awful lot of empty shops there but they’re just asking silly amounts of money.

“That’s just not realistic so now I’m trying to find somewhere out of town, whether that’s Allenstown or even in Queen Elizabeth Drive.”

The weekly Kern Arcade Markets have also been impacted, with co-ordinator Madonna McMullen also looking for a new venue for them.

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