Convenience World profiles Rodes News, located at Stafford Heights in Brisbane, and owner Susanne Brough during National Newsagent Week.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, what are the changes and challenges impacting the retail newsagency space?
Changes have come in what customers now require. The demand for magazines and cards has increased. At times it can be hard to be across everything. For example, when home schooling was announced we were caught short on school supplies, something that had declined over the years.
With the lockdowns, card sales grew but we also faced supply problems. The increased use of cards saw merchant fees increase, and a drop in cash flow, something required when paying out prizes. But with slight changes within the business, we were able to work through them. Our customer numbers increased in store while the work from home orders were in place.
How has your community interaction changed in 2020-2021? And what changes and added service have you implemented to respond to customer demand?
We have become a listening post for our customers to let out their frustrations around the situation we are in. We are the “local news source” for them. We offered home delivery for additional products – this was mainly utilised by the elderly who were stuck at home during the lockdowns. We increased our range of magazines due to demand with lockdown and the shift to working from home.
What makes your newsagency different from others? – store design, ethos, range and offering.
We are known to have an ear for our customers and still get many coming in for a chat.
We are very open about our sporting allegiance which creates banter and customers coming in especially to let us know about our team – good and bad.
Last year we were able to refurbish our store to create a fresh open look.
What’s next for the newsagency and the outlook for the rest of the year? Any new initiatives, new products or range, or expansion plans?
Due to our demographic, we are evolving into giftware. We tested the waters and it was successful so we are extending the variety and range. We feel it is a good opportunity with Christmas fast approaching.
We are always on the lookout for new and exciting products applicable to our clientele.
What is the most enjoyable part of owning a newsagency?
Personally, I love the customer interaction. As you can imagine over 22 years, we have established some close contacts. Even customers who have moved away will call in and ask after our children.
And what makes a successful newsagency? I do believe for a newsagent to be successful today you have to be prepared to change with the times. It is not always easy to go down a different path but a change can be as good as a holiday, so they say.
Where do you see the newsagency industry over the next year?
Newsagents will evolve into stores that suit their demographic, offering a variety of products and services, whether they be gifts, electronics or stationery.
I believe they will continue to be a newsagent at heart but will have to evolve. Similar to the AM radio stations everyone thought would disappear when FM radio commenced. They have adapted to the changing environment and are still with us.