By Jason Irvine
A stalwart of the city for almost 50 years, Silver City Newsworld on Oxide St is inching nearer to the possibility of closing shop in the new year after repeated attempts in the past decade to find a new owner.
One of only four news agencies surviving in Broken Hill, it is symptomatic of a decline in the industry both locally and globally in the last five years as print products disappear to be replaced by digital offerings.
Newsworld owners Phil and Suzanne Day took over the shop in 1993, along with another couple, but after close to 30 years – and the business on the market for 10 years – they say the time has come to step away.
“I was a tradesman on the mine, and it was March 1993 when I got retrenched. I didn’t want to leave town, we partnered up with another couple and bought Newsworld and parted our ways after five years so we’ve been here ever since,” Phil told us.
It’s not that it’s an unlucky store – over the years since they’ve owned it, Newsworld has seen no less than 18 Division 1 Lotto winners.
“Sad to see it close but, the time has come. Bit of ill-health and we’re getting older so it’s time for us to enjoy the rest of our time, get our home back in order,” says Phil.
Phil and Suzanne are still hopeful something positive will happen before their self-imposed new year deadline.
“Sadly, y’know, we’ve advertised it, but people don’t want to work. We’ve had a few enquiries. Most of them don’t want to do weekends, but when you take on a newsagency, you have to sign a contract: if they print, you open,” Suzanne said.
“It used to be a very labour-intensive job, now it’s just time-intensive. We’ve modernised it to an extent but it’s very easy to operate. We’ve tried to sell it and haven’t had any takers so we’ve finally decided time’s come. What can you say about it, it’s a great business, it really has been a great business,” Phil said.
“I think we’ve been through the decline. Business is now picking up, circulation of newspapers is increasing with the nationals. The hard copy, they do still like to have the hard copy in their hands. It’s improving, we’re busier now than what we’ve been for a long time, so business is increasing all the time,“ Phil says.
“We’ve gone into a confectionary range from Adelaide which is very popular and there’s a national push now to become a collection agency for parcels in competition with the post office and bill-pay service so there’s many ways you can diversify to make it a bit more attractive. But we’re too old and too tired to put too much more back into it.”
“So many people over the years we’ve been friends with or been part of their lives and they’ve been a big part of ours. It’s been fabulous,” Suzanne said.
“They’ve been very important in our lives as hopefully we’ve been important in theirs. Some people, we might be the only ones they see a day, a lot of the old pensioners who live by themselves, we might be their only contact. And we’ve tried our hardest to look after them as well. When they get sick, we’ll drop a paper around to their house, messages. So, I’d say it’s a very personal business now, for a small town.”
“It’s going to leave a huge hole in this community,” Phil declared.
“It’s a very personal business in a small town. We know most people who come in. Ninety-nine per cent of people, we can call them by their first name and know their life history, talk about their kids, it’s very personal here.”
“If we can sell it in the next eight weeks, it would be fabulous. I’d really hate to see this shop close. It’s an iconic place in town,” Suzanne said.
“But we’ve burnt out,” says Phil. “We’ve done our time. It’s time to move on. No turning back now for us.
“It’s a legendary place I think. And we’re going to miss it.”