‘Buy local’ battle cry for Beaufort St

BACK L-R: Shane Hughes (Mt Lawley Art Framers), Lisa Branco (Estrela Studio), Preston Jurn (Sixty Grams), Claudia Princi (Department on Beaufort), Anne Kohler (Ware Gifts) and Terry Chua (Dainty Dowager). FRONT: Joshua O'Keefe (Chair Beaufort Street Network).  The Beaufort Street Network (BSN) is planning on holding a
BACK L-R: Shane Hughes (Mt Lawley Art Framers), Lisa Branco (Estrela Studio), Preston Jurn (Sixty Grams), Claudia Princi (Department on Beaufort), Anne Kohler (Ware Gifts) and Terry Chua (Dainty Dowager). FRONT: Joshua O'Keefe (Chair Beaufort Street Network). The Beaufort Street Network (BSN) is planning on holding a "rally" to drum up support for struggling Beaufort Street, amidst many bar and business closures. Picture: David Baylis

A BATTLE cry is rolling down Beaufort Street.

Shops, restaurants and bars are opening their doors next Saturday night for a snap rally encouraging people to take to the street.

Beaufort Street Network (BSN) chairman Joshua O’Keefe said it was time for a big buy local, eat local and drink local unofficial festival.

“We’ve been working for a long time on little interventions to stop this kind of stuff happening. But we have got to the point where we need to do something right now,” he said.

“It’s a battle cry, trying to get as many locals out as we can.”

Beaufort Street Network chairman Joshua O’Keefe. Picture: David Baylis

Mr O’Keefe said it had been an emotional week with more closures hitting the strip.

“This is where we live as a committee and an organisation. We need to make sure businesses feel supported – even though we’re a volunteer organisation, we need to make sure they’ve got someone to turn to,” he said.

“People need to come down and start eating in the restaurants, and shopping in the IGA, and get their photos framed at the art framers.

“Even though it looks vacant, if you did a list of everything that’s available on Beaufort Street right now, we’ve got almost everything.”

Estrela Studio owner Lisa Branco has spent two years in the Astor Arcade, next to the now-shut Cantina.

“It’s a bit scary, a bit daunting,” she said.

“I think anything positive has got to help. There’s so much negative press. There’s new spaces, so new shops will come. The press putting a negative spin on it is making people think ‘oh, I’ll just give up then’.”

Mr O’Keefe said the BSN had a series of projects coming up to draw people to the street, including busking and a verge to plate foraging event for kids.

“We want people to remember why they used to come to Beaufort Street – everyone’s got a story,” he said.

“It’s about reconnecting with what people love the most.”

L-R: Shane Hughes (Mt Lawley Art Framers), Lisa Branco (Estrela Studio), Preston Jurn (Sixty Grams), Joshua O’Keefe (Chair Beaufort Street Network), Claudia Princi (Department on Beaufort), Anne Kohler (Ware Gifts) and Terry Chua (Dainty Dowager). Picture: David Baylis

The cities of Stirling and Vincent are collaborating to start a joint ‘vacancy project’ tackling the empty shopfront issue, with more activations, joint campaigns, and $330,000 earmarked for funding in Vincent’s 2019/20 draft budget.

Mr O’Keefe welcomed the funding announcement.

“I think it’s a good start. The thing we need is people on the street,” he said.

The Beaufort Street ‘rally’ is set to take place on Saturday, June 8, with all encouraged to come down to the street for dinner, drinks and shopping.

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