While others struggle, these businesses are feeling the upside of coronavirus

Business owners like Mel Benecke, co-owner of Wild Greens online grocers, are doubling their normal trade during COVID-19.

Business owners like Mel Benecke, co-owner of Wild Greens online grocers, are doubling their normal trade during COVID-19. Photo: Mel Benecke

Coronavirus has pushed many businesses to the wall, but some are doing better than ever.

What started as a flurry of customers has become a thriving market for these small to medium businesses.

It all started with panic-buying for Ray Nalder at Brisbane’s Rock n Roll Butcher.

Ray Nalder said customers flocked to his butcher shop when the coronavirus hit our shores. Photo: Ray Nalder

“We sold out of everything we had for two weeks straight,” he said.

“We would try and stock the shelves in the morning, but everything would be gone by close of business.”

Since the panic has eased, so too have the sales.

Mr Nalder hopes the swing towards small businesses is more than just a COVID-19 trend.

“Though sales have come back down, it is still much busier than it previously was, by double,” he said.

“I’m not sure if this is sustainable, however people have realised that there is a true local butcher, or baker, or fruiterer, who lives and works in their community, and customers are currently more than happy to continue to support those businesses.”

At Melbourne’s Top Gear Cycles, owners Peter and Celine Hepworth have welcomed dozens of new customers dusting off their old bikes.

Top Gear Cycles owners Peter and Celine Hepworth have seen an influx of customers. Photo: Peter and Celine Hepworth

“The biggest feedback is a lot of them are coming from gyms that are closed so they don’t have that form of exercise any more,” Mr Hepworth said.

“I would have done 15 punctures in a row yesterday morning and that’s probably triple what we usually have in one morning.”

Business has more than doubled for online greengrocers Mel Benecke and Darren Withey.

Wild Greens usually delivers 40 boxes of fruit and vegetables a day to families along the New South Wales coast. Now they are delivering 86.

“Just recently I thought, ‘How am I going to grow the business a little bit further?’ Well, coronavirus has just done it,” Ms Benecke said.

“And now we’ve got to a point where we can’t take any new orders on a Tuesday. It has just got too busy.”

In the tiny town of Pokolbin, north-west of Newcastle, The Little Wine Company’s online sales are up by 40 per cent, which is helping to compensate for the closure of the cellar door and restaurant.

Owner Suzanne Little said she has been overwhelmed by the support of Hunter Valley locals.

“I think there’s quite a deliberate move to support us rather than buying any old stuff at the large retailers, and we’re fully aware of that and are very appreciative,” she said.

“We’ve had a few members saying they want to support us and help us get through this.”

Confoil CEO Alison Buxton. Photo: Alison Buxton

With many cafes and restaurants pivoting to delivery models, Melbourne-based food packaging business Confoil is busy working with recruiters to boost its workforce.

Its locally made foil trays and paper board trays are in high demand, chief executive Alison Buxton said.

“We have also sensed a shift where people are looking for locally made products, which are safe and can be readily ordered and accessed,” Ms Buxton said.

“As a result, we are all hands on deck to meet that demand.”

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