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Support surges following seat complaints

Gympie Cinemas owner Laurence Duggan hopes to see the community continue to support Gympie's businesses.
Gympie Cinemas owner Laurence Duggan hopes to see the community continue to support Gympie's businesses. Renee Albrecht

GYMPIE Cinemas has been inundated by community support after the reply to "Facebook trolls” complaining about the quality of their seats was seen by more than 11,000 people.

Owner Laurence Duggan said it had been a great response to an unfortunate outcry driven by what he believes were a vocal minority, one which was blown out of proportion.

"People tend to listen to rumour instead of coming and asking questions,” he said.

He said some of the people posting complaints lived more than 100km away.

Having taken over the cinemas in February, Mr Duggan said while he understood the complaints had some merit - 30-odd seats were broken at the time of his November 6 post - the negative responses had had an impact on staff.

"We are part of the community,” he said.

"We give jobs to young people in Gympie and quite often it's their first job.”

Mr Duggan said regularly engaging with the community was crucial to the survival of small businesses like his.

It was a thought which had been foremost in his mind when writing the reply.

"If we don't have a good rapport with the community and they don't come, it'd be the end of the cinema,” he said.

Chris Wilson, the co-owner of another business built around entertainment, the Gympie Jungle, said it was a struggle to keep up with the cost of operating.

"I think the overheads for a business such as this are just so high,” Mrs Wilson said.

"In a town like Gympie despite us being very well supported we just can't make ends meet, basically.”

Mrs Wilson said the community response to the Jungle, which opened about 12 months ago, had been fantastic.

Despite the efforts of Mrs Wilson and her husband, Phil, to offer a quality product at reasonable prices, Mrs Wilson said people still had a tendency to gravitate towards larger established businesses.

She said she understood the economic climate made people more careful about where they spent their money, but unfortunately those choices could have a huge impact on the smaller operators.

"McDonald's is never going to go out of business,” Mrs Wilson said.

"But a small business such as ours, if we're not supported we will have to go out of business.”

It is a sentiment Mr Duggan shares. He said he hoped to see the recent surge of community support accompanied by an increase in engagement with business owners.

"More people need to support their local businesses, and if there's something with that business that you'd like to support them but you don't for a certain reason the business owners want to hear that feedback.”

Topics:  business cinemas community gympie

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