'Little people' stand up and fight

GYMPIE shopkeeper Pina Long knows all about what happens to little people in a marketplace ruled by corporate giants.

"We're from dairy farming stock," she said.

Mrs Long was one of the few retailers who fronted the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to present a case for the little people of convenience and specialty retailing.

That was partly because many smaller shops, especially those who rented their premises in large shopping centres, feared retribution if they upset their landlords or major retail tenants.

Pina and her husband Tim would be operating the store themselves on Sundays to cut costs in view of the new competition.

"They had consultants who had prepared reports and none of them could look us in the eye," she said of witnesses called by the big firms at the trading hours hearing, held in Gympie Courthouse.

The commission heard evidence from retailers opposed to seven-day trading, even though they were not technically registered as parties to the case.

Smaller retailers said they had been unable to raise the $10,000 needed for the United Retail Federation to speak for them.

Gympie Fullife Pharmacy owner David Dixon, who also gave evidence to the commission, said there was no point in continuing to complain.

"It's all done and dusted. It's all been said and done now.

"We won't be opening on Sundays. It's not economically viable," he said.

Fiona Petersen of Mick-Fee's Horseshoe Bend Store was also disappointed.

"At the end of the day, without legal representation, we were totally screwed," she said.

Gympie Regional Council also opposed the application through evidence provided by then-planning committee chairman Ian Petersen. The decision is the reverse of one two years ago, after a similar application and will allow Sunday trading from 9am-6pm.

Gympie Times


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