By Jamie Salter
After 14 years of servicing the local community, Pearcedale’s JLC’s general store is closing its doors – but not by choice.
Jasman Pty Ltd is the owner of the Pearcedale Shopping Centre and JLC’s landlord.
The company is hiking up its rental prices and JLC’s owner Cathy Morgan said she was left with no option but to close up shop.
Ms Morgan said the closure was “gut-wrenching“.
“We can’t afford to continue to run with the rates they’re putting on,“ she said.
“Previously it went up, but we’ve never had a jump like this.“
The store’s rent is increasing from about $33,000 to roughly $60,000 per year.
A Jasman Pty Ltd spokesperson said JLC’s lease was set to expire at the end of next month.
“Jasman is seeking new leases in line with market rent and this was offered to the tenants,“ the spokesperson said.
“As the rental the tenants enjoyed for number of years was well below market rental rates, the tenants have decided to not take up new leases and leave the shopping centre.
“Jasman has honoured a small number of historical leases with below market rents for some years.
“Jasman has every right to negotiate market rentals with its tenants as new leases are negotiated.”
JLC’s was one of the first businesses in the area and was known to local residents as a community hub.
It was run by sisters, Julie, Leanne and Cathy Morgan, who say the rent increase was the final blow to their business after paying a full priced lease throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s less money coming in and we had zero concessions from our landlords during Covid-19 – no reductions, no discounts, no nothing,“ Ms Morgan said.
“The only thing that helped us survive was Victorian Government business support payments and JobKeeper payments.“
Tributes from locals came flooding in since the business announced its departure.
“The community support has been amazing, they’ve been backing us and putting up ’save our shop’ signs and we’ve received flowers,“ Ms Morgan said.
“We’re devastated for the oldies who would buy their coffee and we would let them stay and there was also a card making group who would meet here.“
The Morgan family said they would think back on the past 14 years fondly.
“We had it set up like an old-fashioned lolly shop for the kids and we had a whole DVD section when we first bought it,“ Ms Morgan said.
“We would greet all the kids in the community.
“This is a beautiful, small town that deserves that personal feel.“