ASTER FERGUSON, JACOB HIGGINS, CAMERON MCALOON
For 34 Halloweens, Apparition costume hire shop across Shenton Road from Claremont train station has been helping its customers dress in a whole bunch of weird and wonderful outfits.
However, store manager Nigel Devenport says that over the past six months construction by State Government agency Landcorp of Claremont on the Park, a mixed-use development nearby, has caused Apparition to lose almost 40 per cent of its business.
With Halloween come and gone over the weekend, Mr Devenport said the shop was facing a hard slog to ensure it could stay in business.
“We’ve taken quite a big hit,” he said.
“We’ve lost about 40 per cent of our income over the last six months.
“And now it’s obviously coming into our busy period.”
Mr Devenport said Landcorp had done some things such as erecting signs and placing advertisements in a newspaper to alert customers it was business as usual at his costume shop.
“I’ve asked them for compensation but, at the moment, it’s in no man’s land,” he said.
“They say they’re thinking about [compensation] …
“The last official communication I had suggested we get legal advice.”
Mayor of Claremont Jock Barker sympathised with Apparition’s predicament, but asserted his council can do no more for it in terms of compensation or access.
“The council does everything it possibly can to facilitate businesses operating as normal, but at the end of the day we don’t have any control [over this State Government project],” he said.
Apparition’s customers have been vocal in their support for the business.
More than 500 people have put their name to an online petition this week asking Landcorp to take some responsibility for the shop’s financial situation.
At the store over the Halloween weekend, Gosnells resident Jennifer Heskins said that word of mouth had brought her to Apparition for her Halloween costume and the potential closure would be a loss for the niche market the business catered to.
“There’s not many places in WA where you can get this sort of stuff,” Ms Heskins said.
“Every time I’ve had a costume party, people have told me to go to Apparition — there’s always such good word of mouth.
“It’s awful that a family who have put everything into their business might be kicked out onto the street.”
Fellow Gosnells resident Benjamin Brodie said the roadworks had made it difficult to access the store.
He said compensation would be appropriate.
“All those businesses on Great Eastern highway were not compensated when that was being redeveloped and so many businesses were forced to close,” Mr Brodie said.
Landcorp Metropolitan General Manager Luke Willcock said his agency was a supporter of Apparition due to its significance as a unique local business.
“LandCorp is highly supportive of Apparitions and places great importance on ensuring the business thrives now and into the future, as it is a good local business that fits well with the future vision of the development of the North East Precinct,” he said.
“This is why Landcorp has provided significant assistance to Appartion and will continue to do so, during the construction period.”
This assistance includes the signs put up around the shop, local media adverts, and alternative parking in collaboration with the Claremont council.
“Claremont on the Park will bring a fresh new mix of living, employment and business opportunities to reconnect the Claremont community currently divided by the railway line,” Mr Willcock said.
Mr Devenport acknowledged development of the area would eventually be a boon for his business but he did not think he would be able to survive long enough to reap the rewards.
“I’m not against progress or development but I just think when you go ahead with plans like these you need to consider the impact it will have on local businesses,” he said.
Mr Willcock said Landcorp had no plans to financially compensate Mr Devenport.
Photos by Aster Ferguson