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Batlow business bouncing back after fire

Batlow IGA proprietor Sam Shang says business is recovering after the Dunns Road fire.

BUSINESS is slowly returning to something like normal for Batlow IGA after it was hit by the Dunns Road firestorm on January 4.

Store proprietor Sam Shang said the first week after the fire business was unsurprisingly very quiet.

“We tried to open the shop after the fire, but most people had been evacuated,” he said.

“Since last week, things have been picking up; more people are coming; plus we have received some support from other communities.”

Gundagai Baptist Church has donated $3000 to be used for vouchers of $60 each for the store, and Wagga Motors has donated funds for 60 vouchers of $80 each. All these vouchers to be used by those affected by the bushfire.

While business has improved Mr Shang concedes it will take time for business to reach its normal level again.

“This time of year; December, January February, is normally always busy, but this will be one of the most quiet summers ever,” he said.

Mr Shang has been proprietor there for four and a half years.

The emergency relief distribution centre, set up in the Batlow Literary Institute to help those affected by the fires with donated goods, was good for those who it was meant to help, but not necessarily for Batlow IGA.

“It caused lots of problems,” he said.

“We could only sell cigarettes and liquor because they could get groceries for free. Things have got much better since it closed.

 “At first it was difficult because the road was closed and power was lost, so I think it was important for council to set up the relief centre.”

He is aware of how much suffering there has been in Batlow due to the fires.

“Some people lost lots,” he said.

“I know a farmer who lost 80 cows and five tons of feed.”