Nextra St Ives Village Newsagency, NSW, has been in operation for close to 30 years. Emma Thurlow runs the newsagent with her sister Karen Scott and Dad, Bill Scott.
Ms Thurlow spoke to Convenience World in an exclusive interview during National Newsagent Week (11-18 September).
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, what are the changes and challenges impacting the retail newsagency space?
A lot has changed in the last couple of years with the pandemic and we’ve had to adapt as we go.
As lockdowns affect the whole community our business has taken a hit but fortunately we’ve been able to trade and keep our doors open the whole time. Of course we’ve had to adjust to the various government orders and guidelines, including limiting the amount of people in our store and ensuring QR code sign in but we’ve been able to keep all our staff employed and our customers happy.
How has your community interaction changed in 2020-2021? And what changes and added service have you implemented to respond to customer demand?
Our community has been amazing. Our customers are very grateful that we’re open and able to serve them during the pandemic. They’re happy to be able to pop in for their papers and magazines plus stationery items. We’ve also been able to help them with cards, gifts and party decorations to make lockdown birthdays special.
We field phone calls every day from the community and have been able to offer phone and collect services and worked with our shopping centre to do special hamper promotions for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as well and take-home craft packs for kids in the school holidays. We also have a printing/scanning service which has been very handy for many locals who are working and schooling from home.
What makes your newsagency different from others?
Service with a smile (even if it is behind a mask at the moment). We have a fantastic team of wonderful staff, many of whom have been with us for a long time. We’ve been in the business for almost 30 years (one of our team, Nancy, has been with us the whole time) and we love having a chat with our regular and new customers every day.
Over the years the newsagent business has changed and we’ve adapted accordingly. We now have a large gift range in store and we change it up constantly so there is always something new and fresh to attract the shopper’s eye.
What’s next for the newsagency and the outlook for the rest of the year?
We’ll keep expanding on our gift ranges and work with Nextra and its many preferred suppliers to bring in new products for our customers.
No expansion plans but a bit of a rejig might be in order in line with installing the new look DigiPOS for The Lotto in the next few years.
What is the most enjoyable part of owning a newsagency? And what makes a successful newsagency?
I really think the interaction with customers in our community is the best. We have fun every day and love bringing a smile to our customer’s faces. Whether it’s helping them select a birthday card, an appropriate gift or looking for a special magazine, we just love helping people.
Where do you see the newsagency industry over the next year?
Newsagents really are a pillar in the community, and the Covid-19 pandemic has proved that they are an essential retailer. I feel the industry is in a strong position at the moment to continue onwards and upwards.