“Some old fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Author

I was walking back from a site visit at the Fremantle Town Hall this week, the sun was out and it seemed to be slowly seeping into my spirit. I am not sure if it was the sun, or the amazing fact that we have completely sold out the Fremantle Business Awards, or that we had a few wins around our suppliers and entertainment for the evening, or maybe it was just evidence of how quickly things in life can turnaround, but as I hit Market St I felt like l had been hit by sunshine. It was so incredible to exit the mall and look across the street, which has up until recently felt like a strip of empty shopfronts and this week has evolved into a hive of activity.

The amazing Best Retail Nominee Kate & Abel’s new store window was filled with greenery and some wild legs (a great sign of things to come), All Saints College’s brand new innovative Studio School in the heart of Fremantle was looking bright and creative, and the line outside the newly opened Peggy’s was a sign of how delicious their new sandwich options are. Round the corner in an initial #freofinds window, Frida’s Sip & Paint was being greeted with intrigue and further down market street the Dockers store was fully stocked and ready for fans. This activated new block felt like everything the brand of Fremantle should be about – discovery, creativity and something for all ages.

In more activating news, Fremantle Markets have been approved for more alfresco seating! City Ward candidate, Adin Lang’s proposal was approved to start operations to allow shop owners to spill out onto the pavement and enliven the dead spot on the strip.⁠ The alfresco seating will be situated on Fremantle’s iconic Cappuccino Strip, relocating the taxi rank and loading bay on South Terrace. The markets are renovating the facade facing South Terrace to allow for multitudes of seating as well as a zoned area for alfresco furniture, outdoor umbrellas, partitions and greenery to create an attractive and appealing space! This proposal addresses a number of issues with this part of our City and we commend City Ward candidate Adin Lang for pushing this forward.

Speaking of local candidates, you will see below, tomorrow is the last day to ensure you are registered for voting in the City of Fremantle elections. This is an important year for voting at the City, as it is crucial that we have local leaders willing to push for greater activation of our Port City and region, push for connections into Fremantle and that those elected truly understand the regional context that we are operating in. For Fremantle to flourish, we need more of the above – quirky retail, density of residents and movement of people through our streets, as well as planning and visioning for connections between our harbours and creative ways to activate and welcome visitors. I look forward to seeing you at the Mayoral Debate at the end of September to put forward these important questions to those throwing their hat in the ring.

This week it has also hit home to most of us just how lucky we are to be able to be out gathering in the sunshine at the moment! COVID-19 continues to impact much of our country, and particular our export and tourism sectors.

A great deal of my week has been spent working with our exporters and our relevant agencies and shipping agents to try to find creative solutions to how we improve the current shipping and cargo challenges to getting products to market. It should be such an opportune moment for our exporters and producers to be filling a gap in the market and assisting our Eastern States neighbours while they are in lock down, yet we are hamstrung by challenging supply logistics. This situation isn’t going to get easier as the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) considers winding down, shipping congestion increases costs and commercial passenger flights are still so restricted. I encourage all of our exporters to continue to feed information into the Chamber so we can advocate and raise the issue with our contacts in the Australian Chamber, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (AUSTRADE) and other agencies of influence. In particular, as a collective let’s continue to work together to find ways to keep getting our products to market. As always, please also free to contact Tigers International (now a JAS company) if you have smaller product shipments to investigate any last minute options they may have in their less than a container load program.

I hope the sun keeps shining in your worlds and the start of spring puts a bit more bounce in your step.

To read more on this week’s Chamber Weekly, click here.