Day one shopping at South Wharf DFO

Day one shopping at South Wharf DFO

By Rhonda Dredge

If you need a pair of New Balance runners after giving your old ones a beating during the last lockdown, DFO on South Wharf is the place to go.

If your running tights are on the dull side and you’re wanting to be seen, FILA has a vibrant pair in stock.

New shipments were coming in, according to the the store manager, now that things were opening up overseas.

A glimmer of hope is on the horizon but on day one of shopping after the latest lockdown local shoppers weren’t exactly flocking to stock up.

“It seems to get quieter and quieter each time there is a lockdown,” Luke Davis, store manager at the FILA outlet, said. “The last one took a couple of weeks.”

The store has a capacity of 35 under the one person per four square metres rule but on Wednesday the first customer came in at 10.15am and there were about five in the store at any one time.

Not that anyone is counting but they still remember good old days with 100 people lining up at the tills.

Workers were glad to be back even though there were lingering fears about being so close to quarantine hotels.

Both the Novotel and the Pan Pacific Hotel are still being used to isolate close contacts.

Justine Bindas, a worker at New Balance, remembers coming to work and seeing a red bus from the airport and police surrounding the hotels.

“It made me feel uncomfortable. It made it [the pandemic] real. I know because I saw police and soldiers.”

She said there was an incident where she served a customer from the US. “She’d left the hotel after quarantine. She’d finished 14 days. She’d come in to get some gear.”

Justine knew she wasn’t infected. That wasn’t the point. She feels like she’s on the front line, particularly now that some customers are coming in without masks.

“We’re told we can’t question them,” she told Southbank News. “We have no right to refuse them. We don’t know if the customer has a medical reason.”

Just the name Rona Walk, the narrow walkway between the hotels and DFO, has spooked some with its dark connotations.

Luke said he had avoided the walkway when coming to work, taking the river route instead. “I changed my walking. What if it goes through the air-conditioning?”

As a destination shopping venue, DFO has been hard hit. Some stores were manned during the crisis for online and click and collect shopping. But it takes time to set up a system when stock is elsewhere in a warehouse.

“The school holidays were busy,” Luke said. “And when people were able to travel from Tasmania and Canberra.”

The concept of destination shopping may not have caught on locally.

Justine does her own destination shopping to the CBD, travelling for soap to Lust, and makes something out of the trip, buying up and stopping for coffee.

Luke said that most people were still supporting their local strip shops, but what about shopping with purpose at DFO? •

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