Small businesses’ time to shine

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Kaylah Joelle Baker

During one of the toughest years for business in history, the longevity of 50 of Melbourne’s locally loved small businesses has been recognised by Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

Recognising small businesses’ contribution to the City of Melbourne, the Lord Mayor’s Commendations has been encouraging and celebrating businesses since 2005.

The businesses making the inner north-west proud this year are Alpha Lewis Signs, Nuttshell Graphics, The Network Group, Vertigo High Access Specialists, The Drunken Poet and Jissara Hair.

And Lord Mayor Sally Capp is hoping the latest recognitions will provide hope for the future.

“Melbourne’s small businesses have endured the toughest trading conditions in decades, and we want to recognise and support them as the city recovers,” Cr Capp said.

For the six inner north-west businesses selected, the recognition is not taken lightly.

“It’s important to have positive stories out there in the marketplace and it’s a great sign and a good initiative by the council,” Vertigo High Access Specialists CEO John Dollisson said.

Alpha Lewis Signs director and co-owner Kim Lewis said her business could have closed down due to circumstances out of its control.

“So, it’s been really nice to have a little happy moment and celebrate all our wins over the years,” she said.

Despite lockdown still being in place, Lord Mayor Sally Capp is hopeful the recipients will have their chance to be honoured at Melbourne Town Hall, which is something founder and CEO of The Network Group, Keran Wicks, is very much looking forward to.

“I can’t wait till we can have a few drinks to celebrate not just the business, but my terrific staff who have built the business with me,” she said.

Like a lot of successful small businesses, the strength of family and a supportive local community is their backbone. And for owner of Jissara Hair, John Gissara, this statement remains true.

Established in 1954, the Kensington business has been passed down from father to son, and has continuously been recognised by the council for its dedication to the community.

But this year is particularly special for Mr Gissara, as it is through extreme difficulties that he has been able to see his two young children “comprehend that they can achieve things like their father” through perseverance.

“It’s all about family and local support. We wouldn’t have been here for this amount of time if we didn’t have local support,” he said.

The City of Melbourne is built on small businesses and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that now is the time to celebrate and support everything they provide •

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