There's a movement around Australia to arrest urban decline. Alice could follow the example of some other fight backs.
They're bucking a trend: as businesses close down or leave the town centre for another location, they've moved into Gregory Terrace, just around the corner from Todd Mall's busy southern end. They've done a clever and stylish revamp of the former fish 'n' chips shop; they're catering to younger consumers – 18 to 35 years – and doing what it takes to appeal to them: offering an experience, not just a product; a cool aesthetic, and working flexible hours.
Dwayne Chapple and partner Peta Coburn bought the tattooing business, formerly at the Polana Centre on Smith Street, after Mr Chapple had been working in it for three years. "We wanted to get away from the stigma of the old shop, the old tattoo cliches. We wanted to be part of the community, be where the action is," says Mr Chapple.
Stay True Tattooing is a good example of a business recognising the strength of the local younger market, says Matty Day. A former professional skateboarder turned community development activist, he recently joined the business innovation committee started by Alderman Murray Stewart in an attempt to get some creative focus on Alice's declining economic fortunes.
Mr Day is convinced that there is opportunity in the current situation. He is taking his cues from the Renew movement, which began in Newcastle in late 2008, driven by a prominent arts and media identity, Marcus Westbury. Melbourne-based, Mr Westbury had grown up in Newcastle. He found his home city in decline: in the two main streets 150 buildings were empty. The area was widely seen as violent and dangerous; there was a lot of vandalism, graffiti, and growing anger and distrust in the community. His answer was to establish Renew Newcastle. In just 18 months the situation had turned around. The ideas started to catch on: there are now similar revitalisation schemes in Adelaide, Townsville, Geelong and Parramatta. Mr Day says Alice should be next. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Top – Tattoo artist Dwayne Chapple at work. His business has relocated from Smith Street to the town centre: "We wanted to be part of the community, be where the action is." • Above – Matty Day wants Alice to think about rebuilding in our own community instead of putting all our eggs in a hoped for, but maybe elusive tourism basket.