Birthday drinks for bar without the beer
OWNING a small business in Gladstone is challenging at the best of times, especially in the current economic climate, but Tracey Clark's business has seen it all and are celebrating as a result.
This week marks the 15th birthday of The Beerless Bar, which opened its doors on August 4, 2004, at Clinton Plaza.
Prior to opening, owner Tracey Clark worked at The Young Australian Hotel bottle shop, with her work there eventually leading to the idea of opening her own bar-related business.
"Every second person would come in asking if they could buy a Bundy stubby cooler or a Jim Beam cap and I went to the (Young Oz) owners at time asking why they aren't stocking that stuff," Mrs Clark said.
"They said every time we do, it walks out the door instead of being sold because their main business was selling alcohol not merchandise.
"My husband (Shane) is a big Jim Beam fanatic so we were always scouting to find stuff and I always wanted to own my own business."
Mrs Clark said a chat to their bank manager Jan Vesey-Brown in early 2004 had given them the push they needed to dive into the deep end of running a business.
"We went and had a chat and said 'this is what we are thinking of doing' but we didn't want to do it yet," she said.
"We didn't want to open for another 12 months but she said 'you've either got to do this now or someone else will do it'.
"We walked out thinking 'this is actually happening' but everything else just fell into place... we were very lucky she pushed us to do it when she did."
Things haven't been all smooth sailing at the store and in early 2017 Mrs Clark was ready to sell.
"My father had just passed away, the downturn was as it was, I probably wasn't in the right head space and I just went 'I'm done'.
"When a downturn happens and you're a small business you've got nobody else to muck in but you.
"My husband said not to (sell) and we got to 12-18 months after that and someone was really interested and I started to panic as I didn't really have a plan if I sold it.
"That (sale) fell through and I thought 'this isn't so bad - we came out of the lull, I can do this and I love my customers'."
Mrs Clark said she was now content and did not plan on going anywhere.
"The local people have supported us and kept us here, especially during that downturn... as much as everybody says no one supports small business, if the locals didn't support us we wouldn't be here," she said.