'We are heartbroken': Business closure a shock to region
RESIDENTS are shocked by the sudden closure of a Gladstone business but its owners said better support could have kept the doors open.
Freestyle Industries in Gladstone Central was a favourite among the region's scooter riders.
It stocked parts, accessories, professional scooters and hosted local competitions.
But after "exhausting every possible avenue" to stay open, the store's owners announced its closure on Wednesday.
"It has been a possibility for a couple of months now," owner Krystal Bird said.
"We tried to find another location with more foot traffic, offer workshops or even just stay as an online store but none of it worked out.
"We are from Gladstone and it's our family business. My husband and my kids, we are all pretty heartbroken.
"We put everything into this. It wasn't just a job for us it was a lifestyle."
The business sponsored and hosted scooter and skating competitions that drew huge crowds and got Gladstone's youth involved in the community.
"It's a big shame," Mrs Bird said.
"There's a stigma around the kind of people that hang around skate parks but we got to know a lot of the young ones and even helped a few out that were going through tough times.
"With a business like Freestyle Industries you really connect with people."
Mrs Bird said the first year of business was extremely busy.
"As much as we tried the community isn't big on it as a sport and we see half the amount of kids out at the skate park now as we did a couple of years ago," she said.
"The community is changing. The town has gone quiet and it is a completely different crowd to what we saw when we first started.
"More and more kids are choosing to stay in and play online games too.
"We also came to realise that even though we offered price-matching, people were still buying products from other cities or online stores.
"There is a lot of people who are telling us how sad it is that we are closing but we needed community support to stay open."
Mrs Bird said she'd like to continue organising and being involved in community events to help promote the sport.
"It was an honour and a pleasure to be able to bring different types of events to the youth and families in our community, and provide our customers with the quality products teamed with the best customer service we had to offer," she said.
"We made many friendships along our journey and like to think of you all as our extended family."
To clear stock, there will be deals and sales at the store.
"We would like to do one more event before we close in May - a competition and a big final sale," Mrs Bird said