A GOLDEN Square business has faced three lockdowns since opening its storefront for the first time a month ago.
Rusty Woodman opened The Blue Wombat after selling his artworks, up-cycled furniture and terrariums online for a number of years.
But he didn't expect to be forced to shut up shop so quickly.
"I knew there would be another lockdown but I didn't think there would be three in four weeks and an extended one," he said. "I thought I was doing the right thing by following my heart. It felt so good and watching space come together was amazing.
"Two days after I got the keys, there was a lockdown. Four days after opening, there was a lockdown. And a week and bit later there was this lockdown.
"It is gut-wrenching, especially after I sourced other local artists to display there. Now I can't get excited about the next day."
Mr Woodman said he originally opened the store because the demand was too much to operate out of his home.
"Because do a lot of own big artworks, some are 200cm by 150cm in size. So big giant pieces that need to be displayed. I can't have them on the walls in the rental property," he said.
"I was also making terrariums by re-purposing glassware. They were selling like hot cakes but it was at my house and I didn't like idea of many visitors at the front door. So I created a destination where people can see them, talk to me and connect to (the works)."
Compounding, Mr Woodman's problems is that he is ineligible for some federal government support due to being on a Centrelink disability pension for a learning disability and his store being so new.
"I am receiving a Centrleink benefit but it has been cancelled, not stopped," he said. "So technically, I have it while opening a business, which means I am not entitled to (some business supports). I have a strong learning disability and that was a deterrent on opening my shop but I wanted to push through that and not be on a disability pension any longer."
Mr Woodman said he might not have opted for a bricks-and-mortar store had he known he would face so many closures so quickly.
"It's really hard. My landlord is good but at the same time I understand he also needs his money," he said. "It's really crap because I'm not open and can't make money to pay the rent.
"It's hard to (go back to online) because if I am at home, the click-and-collect rules are messy and I don't know if can or can't do things. Also people can't travel more than five kilometres from home, so who is going to come, my neighbours?
"The days I was open, it was very good. But what do you do? I just cried at the dining table last night."
On Wednesday, the state government announce more rent relief for commercial tenants with eligibility broadened for business owners. It is aimed at businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and have lost more than 30 per cent of turnover during the pandemic.
New businesses will also be protected under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme with any business that opened after April 2019 eligible for assistance.
"We know businesses are doing it tough - that's why it's important that we continue to back them with practical measures, including rent relief," small business minister Jaala Pulford said.
"We want everyone to get a fair outcome - the Victorian Small Business Commission will provide free support to businesses to help them negotiate an agreement with landlords, if they're unable to reach agreement themselves."
Mr Woodman has been honing his craft for 15 years and lived in Sydney - where he is from - Adelaide, Queensland and Daylesford before arriving in Bendigo.
"I do big artworks but am also a furniture artist and flip old furniture, mostly into an industrial-retro fusion," he said. "I also do vintage glassware preparations and turn them into planters and terrariums.
"Anything that doesn't deserve to be landfill or put into a skip bin, I try to give new life to."
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