Orange's leading tourism group has hit back at public perception Summer Street is gathering tumbleweeds, saying the main drag is "absolutely not" becoming a ghost town and businesses who target their audience are thriving in the city.
However, several cafes outside the main street said they wouldn't consider moving onto Summer Street, preferring the advantages of being further out of town.
Nile Street Cafe owner-manager Frank Mohun said while he hadn't run a business along the main street he wouldn't consider opening one, preferring having a point of difference being outside the city centre.
With lots of people coming through to shop, you can get by on that alone but without it you need something to set you apart.Nile Street Cafe owner-manager Frank Mohun
He said Orange had "gone off the boil" when it came to shopping with less visitors from places such as Parkes, Forbes, and Canowindra, and that was impacting hospitality businesses in the centre of town.
"Being three-and-a-half hours from Sydney is good for tourists and the tourists are great but [tourists] aren't enough to sustain an entire industry," he said.
"It's affected our day-to-day, pre-Myer we could have counted on people coming from elsewhere to do their shopping [mid-week] and nip in to us but not any more."
Mr Mohun said rent on the main street was high, and the number of empty shops would impact on hospitality businesses along the stretch, especially during the week.
"With lots of people coming through to shop, you can get by on that alone but without it you need something to set you apart," he said.
One of the things he's done at Nile Street Cafe had made an effort to have a presence on Instagram and Facebook to try and bring in more people, and focusing on their market had reaped rewards.
Mr Mohun said many people plugged the cafe's address straight into their phones, which meant Nile Street Cafe wasn't reliant on foot traffic, and during weekends and special events such as Orange FOOD Week and the upcoming Winter Fire Festival they were booked out.
t's really important for businesses to know their niche and who they're targeting and make sure they communicate with them.Orange 360 general manager Caddie Marshall
Bills Beans East Orange owner and operator Ricky Carver said he also wouldn't consider opening a new coffee shop on Summer Street, saying his current location on McLachlan Street was benefiting from the "rise of east Orange".
He said his cafe benefited from locals visiting, as well as teachers at nearby schools, gym-goes, and tradies all made up the bulk of his traffic, but also had massive boons over long weekends, as well as regularly on Saturdays and Sunday.
He echoed Mr Mohun in saying extra space and parking benefited his location, "as we all know people in Orange don't like walking far from their car to the door".
Mr Carver said the main street was "too congested" and there were other options such as Byng Street Cafe and Omar Coffee on Woodward Street which people were gravitating towards instead.
Meanwhile, Orange 360 general manager Caddie Marshall said the it was "up to businesses to invite customers in", and the economic success of the long weekend just gone was proof that traders who knew their market were going from strength to strength.
"It's really important for businesses to know their niche and who they're targeting and make sure they communicate with them," Ms Marshall said.
You look at Beekeepers on Bathurst Road, they don't rely on any other footfall to get people in there...Orange 360 general manager Caddie Marshall
On social media there's been expressions of ongoing public concern about the viability of several key eateries and retail outlets along Summer Street and in the Orange CBD.
Concern about retail and industry jobs has heightened in the past few years with the closure of several outlets, chief among them Myer at the start of 2017.
However, Ms Marshall said retail was still a strength for the city, with Orange 360's statistics saying about 25 per cent of people visited the city for shopping, with some of those coming from Dubbo, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth.
While food and wine were still the main attractions, Orange's boutique artisan businesses were one example of where the region was thriving.
Ms Marshall pointed to Ms Mary Mac and Angus Barrett as two places not far from Percy's which were doing well, and added having new speciality stores opening in the Orange City Centre development at the old Myer site in the coming months would bring traffic and business to the rest of the street.
Washington and Co., the Canobolas Hotel and the Blind Pig were all hospitality businesses along or just off Summer Street doing well, according to Ms Marshall.
"You look at Beekeepers on the Mitchell Highway, they don't rely on any other footfall to get people in there, obviously they're on the main road but they're not relying on another retailer, they target their audience and are always engaged," she said.
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