Gladstone designer Kelly-Anne Russell says customer service is the key to competing with online shopping, particularly for fashion retailers.
Gladstone designer Kelly-Anne Russell says customer service is the key to competing with online shopping, particularly for fashion retailers. Brenda Strong

Retailers need to step up to compete with online shopping

QUALITY customer service is the key to running a successful fashion boutique in Gladstone, according to one local designer.

Kelly-Anne Russell said while Gladstone's retail sector had variety, it sometimes lacked quality customer service.

"They need to offer shoppers something to come back," Ms Russell said. "Good customer service is key to this."

Ms Russell said retailers needed to be ahead of the eight ball when it came to offering new products in town, especially in the age of online shopping.

"It means our local businesses have to offer something more," Ms Russell said.

"There are so many (clothing) options when it comes to online shopping."

The former Project Runway contestant said the town would always have an interest in fashion and design.

"I think there is a large section of the community that enjoys going out to luxury events like the races or for high teas," she said.

"People are always wanting to buy clothes that are made especially for them.

"We have a smorgasbord of options in town when it comes to fashion," Ms Russell said.

Vendors line up for fashion action at beach festival

ORGANISERS of the monthly Beach Arts Music Festival in Tannum Sands are knocking back retail stall holders.

At July's event, store co-ordinator Cecily Burkett had to turn away eight retail fashion stalls.

"We're starting to knock them back," Ms Burkett said. "We are now particularly picky about what stalls we have.

"We don't want any double-ups."

Of the 80 stall spaces available at BAM each month, almost half the stalls belong to clothing retailers.

Ms Burkett, who used to own a clothing store in town with her late husband, said there was a demand for more fashion outlets in town.

"BAM is a great community event and people are showing us how much they enjoy it," Ms Burkett said.

While Ms Burkett could not comment on what retail stores were thriving at BAM, she did say food outlets trumped fashion stalls when it came to raking in the profits.

"But most of the profits go back into organising the next event," she said.

As for whether Gladstone was viable for more fashion retailers, Ms Burkett advised retailers to channel their market.

She said fashion trends in Gladstone were based on climate and lifestyle.

"There are not many occasions in Gladstone where you need to get dressed up," she said.

"The climate is a big factor. If you lived in a town with a colder climate, you would have better quality garments."