Broken Hill’s only dedicated souvenir shop, Broken Hill Premier Souvenir Shop, will be closing its doors on June 30. After 18 years of operating the shop located at 311 Argent St, owner Ray Steer, who is 73 years old, has made the decision to retire. Due to the need for shoulder surgery, Steer believes it is the right time to step away from the business.
“[I’m] not getting any younger but got to the stage where I’ve got to think about my health, made sure my health is good. On June 30, I’ll close the door for good”, Mr Steer told the Barrier Truth.
A born-and-bred local, Mr Steer left Broken Hill in 1973 before returning in 2000. His previous jobs included working for R&S AluWindoors in Melbourne and a major steel company, as well as volunteer and charity work.
“I’ve always worked for myself. When I come back here, I had the opportunity of buying the shop off of Mrs Conlon when she was moved up there to the mineral shop – another shop I took over. I moved down here 12 years ago. Bigger shop, more frontage. The best spot in town. The bus stop out here for tours, you talk to people every day walking past”, he said.
Since taking over the souvenir shop in 2006, it’s the number of people – mostly tourists – that he’ll miss coming into the shop the most.
“Talking doesn’t cost you money. Over the years, I’ve had some people back every year going through my shop from Sydney to Perth, all around Australia. People who visited 16 years ago, they came in on Friday and they bought some souvenirs. I gave them a free gift., I’ll miss people like that. We rely on tourists,” he says.
Mr Steer says, “you’ve got to have an outlet where people have got a range of good products” and believes Broken Hill Premier Souvenir Shop has that, noting shot glasses sell every day of the week, as well as the spoons, mugs, hats, and stubby coolers being among the top sellers too.
“[The] next six weeks we’ll be closing. If someone wants to buy it, make an offer. Tourists are very welcome to our city, and everyone’s got to help each other in the shops, this block of shops”, he concludes.
Mr Steer says he will keep busy, even without the souvenir shop, making heritage coat ranks in his backyard shed, which he’ll intend to sell.