Shoppers welcome traders' solution to parking problem

INITIATIVE: Traders displaying this sign in their front window are offering shoppers a free hour of parking in the multi-storey on Edward Street. Picture: ANDI YU

INITIATIVE: Traders displaying this sign in their front window are offering shoppers a free hour of parking in the multi-storey on Edward Street. Picture: ANDI YU

Shoppers have welcomed the new Shop for Longer initiative started by Bath Lane traders, giving them a free hour of parking.

Under the system, shoppers are encouraged to park their car in the multi-storey carpark on Edward Street where the first 90 minutes are free.

Bath Lane traders will offer customers a voucher granting them an extra hour, giving them a total of two-and-a-half hours of free parking.

When paying for parking, shoppers will need to scan their yellow entry pass and then scan the vouchers at the car park's pay station.  

The initiative starts on Saturday, with 26 out of the 32 businesses in Bath Lane offering vouchers to those who use their goods and services.

Shoppers Chris and Barry Lancaster said they would be happy to walk from the multi-storey to Bath Lane because parking was a problem.  

Abbey Dorrington, 20, said the initiative was a good idea because it was hard to find a park when she had lengthy hair appointments at Bamboo Beauty Lounge. 

Miss Dorrington said she often parked in the nearby McDonald's carpark - even though she knew she shouldn't - to avoid getting a fine in an on-street space. 

Owner of Bamboo Beauty Lounge, Trudi O'Donnell, said she came up with the idea one night at 3am. 

 "I woke up and I said, 'I know what we can do'," Ms O'Donnell said. 

"We have got clients who ring and say it's really difficult to park in Bath Lane.

"We’re also looking at introducing valet parking for customers," she said. 

Fitness centre D-Club 247 manager Brikitta Kool said the plan was about traders showing great customer service. 

She also said many people didn't know about the multi-storey carpark on Edward Street and this was a chance to publicise it. 

All businesses offering the free parking voucher are doing so at their own expense. They pay the $1.50 parking fee instead of the customer.  

City of Greater Bendigo economic development unit manager Brian Gould said the council was pleased to support strategies to attract people to the CBD for longer. 

"The Bath Lane traders are to be congratulated for coming up with a really practical way to reward their customers," Mr Gould said.

Longano's Hairdressing owner Alf Longano is not offering the vouchers because most of his clients come on foot. 

He is also skeptical about how many shoppers would use the multi-storey carpark, even if they were being offered free parking. 

"The problem with Bendigo people is they don't like to walk anywhere too far to get to a shop," Mr Longano said.

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