Celebrating the businesses shaping our city

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Kaylah Joelle Baker

Small business owners are being celebrated for their determination and contribution to the city’s culture and economic prosperity through the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.

Previously known as the Lord Mayor’s Commendations Awards, the awards recognise 49 Melbourne business owners who have been operating within the city for more than 10, 20 and 40 years.

Celebrated for her commitment to the city for more than 40 years, the CBD’s You Day Spa owner Helen Cacopardo said she was “proud to be part of the city of Melbourne.”

As an oasis in the heart of the CBD, You Day Spa is an example of the unique small businesses that make up the city.

“The city is a lovely community and like a little village as all the long-term business owners know each other,” Ms Cacopardo said.

Rare and bespoke store Wendy Scully Millinery in Emporium Melbourne has also been recognised, and as a business that started from small beginnings to now having clients all over the world, owner Wendy Scully said the recognition was “exciting”.

As a city that is built on independent and unique stores, the council’s small business portfolio lead Cr Jason Chang said small businesses were critical to Melbourne’s economy and contributed to the buzz of the city.

“These awards are a celebration of many years of hard work, often building a small business from the ground up, establishing a loyal customer base and adding real flair and character,” Cr Chang said.

After starting her business from scratch in 2011, the owner of locally made gift and fine food store Clementine’s Melanie Ashe said the July 21 award show was an evening to “stop and reflect” on the achievement of making it through the tough times.

“The last few years were pretty scary and it was good to see small businesses being celebrated after a lot of them had done it pretty tough,” Ms Ashe said.

“Melbourne is all about the small independent businesses and that’s why people come here.”

As well as appealing to tourists, small businesses’ successes are often due to the regular customers and clients that continue to support them.

Noticing the impact regular customer support has had on the store’s ability to grow, owner of game store Dungeon of Magic Adam Pickett said he felt “humbled” looking back on the past 26 years of owning the business.

“The fact that we can support multi-generational people is a good feeling. I have parents who are coming in now with their kids who were only kids themselves when they started coming in 20 years ago,” Mr Pickett said.

“I see people grow up and change, and the fact that this is my hobby means I get the best of both worlds.”

Also being recognised for 26 years of commitment to the city, and Queen Victoria Market in particular, is husband and wife Gary and Janine Hunt with their business The Chicken Pantry.

Dedicated to maintaining strong relationships within the market, with stall owners and customers, Ms Hunt said the recognition was “a nice feeling”.

“I’m just happy to receive any recognition and publicity around the City of Melbourne and the market because we have had a really rough trot,” she said.

“Anything that puts us back into the spotlight in a positive way is really good.”

The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards have been celebrating the small businesses that make up the city since 2005, and each award night one small business takes home the top award. This year’s award went to boutique wallpaper art and signage business Grafico Group for their innovation, creative marketing, sustainability initiatives and long-standing connection to the city. •

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