Small Businesses of Broken Hill: In conversation with Lea Jones

By Dylan J. Stone

Nine months ago, during the most challenging period of the COVID pandemic, Lea Jones purchased Excelsior Seafood and Chicken, a traditional corner fish and chip shop.

Lea and her daughters had previously worked in the shop so when the opportunity came for her to purchase the business, she decided to take the plunge into small business ownership.

In the last nine months, Lea has been careful not to change things too quickly.

She has maintained the same products and systems that the old owners used.

“It’s important that I didn’t come in and change things too quickly,” she said.

“This was a successful business before I bought it and it’s important that I maintained the consistency that the customers come to expect.”

For Lea, small business ownership isn’t necessarily about ‘changing things’ or ‘making your mark’, it’s about ‘cruising along and taking things how they come.’

In Lea’s view, rolling with the punches and adapting to the challenges is better than making wholesale changes when the current products and systems the business utilises are successful.

Speaking of the challenges, Lea comments that inflation is perhaps the most significant challenge her business deals with because almost everything we sell has lettuce on it!’ COVID has also been challenging, as has staffing.

With Lea’s immediate family and some family friends working at the shop, the challenge of securing staff hasn’t been as significant for Lea as in other businesses.

According to Lea, the benefits of business are much greater than the challenges.

On the top of the list of benefits that Lea has mentioned, is the ability to have a go at working for yourself, as this allows for flexibility.

Lea’s customers also give her a reason to open every day because she thoroughly enjoys ‘meeting, interacting and socialising with people.’

She loves when tourists arrive to take a photo of the mural on the side of her shop as, “There’s always something to talk about here,” laughs Lea.

Lea’s advice for anyone considering opening a small business is positive, yet direct, “Research before you take it on and do your homework.”

Lea also mentions that those planning to open a small business need to “make sure that’s exactly what you want to do because while you will achieve flexibility, business ownership can be much tougher mentally than what some people might expect.”

Nevertheless, after nine months, Lea says, “I have no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Lea certainly did her homework and understood the challenges that small business owners face. Still, she accepted the risk of purchasing her business and to date, she says, “things are running very well.”

It’s onward and upward for Lea and she is now looking forward to the boom of the August Mundi Bash Festival.

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