Coast stalwart calls it quits

FOR close to three decades Pit Stop News and Supermarket owners John and Julie Romanin have helped locals and visitors alike with all their last-minute needs.

An iconic feature of the Surfers Paradise commercial landscape, the family-owned store is a reminder of the Gold Coast Indy 300, and the simpler times when a perfect weekend was reading the paper and having a cold one on the beach.

As of next week however the family will be calling it quits.

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Tired of the changing nature of both the market and the Gold Coast, Mr Romanin said he will instead be embarking on his next enterprise - retirement.

Having sold the business earlier this year after 28 years, Mr Romanin says he won't miss the ever-quickening pace of the convenience sector which he said has become "next-to-impossible".

Pit Stop store owners Mr and Mrs John and Julie Romanin with there Daughter Natalie Romanin pictured in there Surfers Paradise Convenience store. Pic Mike Batterham
Pit Stop store owners Mr and Mrs John and Julie Romanin with there Daughter Natalie Romanin pictured in there Surfers Paradise Convenience store. Pic Mike Batterham

Previously employing up to 17 staff members Mr Romanin said the entry of larger chains and online grocery and food delivery services had been detrimental to the convenience space.

"We are down to eight (staff) including ourselves," Mr Romanin said.

"We see figures showing 50 per cent more customers five years ago.

"It's a tougher space and we constantly have to change the emphasis of the business, from convenience to food - now I am over it.

The owners of Pit Stop convenience are selling up after 28 years at Surfers Paradise.
The owners of Pit Stop convenience are selling up after 28 years at Surfers Paradise.

"At the end of the day I think the Gold Coast has become too over-serviced with shopping centres, they don't have the population to sustain what we have got."

Mr Romanin said the dependence on the tourism market also doesn't help.

"Around us a lot of people are involved in the tourism industry, cleaners, guides - they used to be cash-rich-time-poor which suited convenience, now it is the other way around."

The shop, which has been operational since 1953 at Surfers Paradise Boulevard, sat in prime position during the Gold Coast's most famous event, the Indy 300.

Pit Stop during the Indi.
Pit Stop during the Indi.

But after the event disappeared and the tram was introduced the Romanins had a lot to contend with.

"One of our greatest losses was giving away the Indy and then they shortened the 600, it made it impossible to access the place."

Despite the challenge the pair appreciated that the store saw all of their children through school.

Historical photos of convenience stop Pit Stop - known as 'Pleasure Inn'
Historical photos of convenience stop Pit Stop - known as 'Pleasure Inn'

"We appreciate all the customers were have had over the years," Julie Romanin said.

She recommended those looking to start their own business to be wary of the sector and always be willing to be agile.

"Be very careful and pick a place in the market that isn't covered already, you have to be inventive," she said.



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