For Graham and Joanne Walker it seems like yesterday that a group of locals would take up their customary positions on the bench outside Childers News and wait for the daily newspaper.
“The loss of printed newspapers deprived those locals of their early-morning gathering where they could meet, talk about the weather or just chat about things in general,” Graham said.
“For us, it has meant the loss of a way of life and a business we pursued for 27 years, but for many locals it has been the loss of a time-honoured local social tradition.”
Childers residents, like those in many rural and regional areas, no longer experience the daily routine of having their newspaper tossed into the front yard or the enjoyable experience of visiting their local newsagent to purchase their favourite read.
The demise of the daily and weekly newspapers has resulted in Graham and Joanne significantly curtailing their normal range of newsagency business activities.
“The loss of the News Mail and earlier, the closure of the weekly local Isis Town & Country newspaper, virtually signalled the end of our newsagency business,” Graham said.
“Although we did endeavour to sell the business for quite a period of time it seems the writing was on the wall as far as viability was concerned for local newsagents.”
Graham and Joanne said they never really believed that newsagencies would lose their value as a business commodity.
“We never saw that coming. We commenced business on January 3, 1993 and at the time there were two newsagents in Childers – Childers News which we owned and Dittmer’s News which was more gift line orientated.
“Childers was just one of two towns in Queensland that had two newsagents both servicing the one paper run. If a new customer was available it was first in best dressed.
“The opportunity eventually presented itself for us to be able to purchase Dittmer’s News and their building which was larger than our premises,” Graham said.
“We were well set up as a Golden Casket agency with scratch-its and lotto. As well as the normal cards and stationery lines we also ventured into a range of gift items which was another string to the bow of our business.”
With the business not attracting a buyer the Walkers sold the Golden Casket agencies, which was a stand-alone franchise.
“The local IGA now has the agency and I believe it is working quite well for them,” Graham said.
Over their years at Childers News the couple sold two first division lotto prizes.
“It’s always a bit of excitement for the town when a major prize is won. We also had the odd occasion where someone would come in to check a ticket and find out totally unexpected they had won a decent prize,” Joanne said.
“We certainly miss all the familiar faces that used to come in for their newspapers and lotto. However, I can’t say that we are missing the early starts that comes as part and parcel of being a newsagent.”
The couple agree that while they still have a significant range of stationery items including printer cartridges, cards, and magazines as well as a substantial range in gift lines they will continue to trade.
“Eventually it will come to an end,” said Graham. “I can see a caravan and trips around Australia in our future.”
- Other news: Wednesday is weedbuster day at Woodgate