Three generations of style
Running a small clothing shop in a country town is a fine art. It requires balance, delicacy and an open mind to serve the needs of locals, tourists, the area’s workers and more. Stroll down the main street of Kyogle on a weekend and you’ll see a vibrant mix of all these people – and Scarborough’s has got it exactly right to cater to this increasingly eclectic community and clientele.
“The customers are very diverse,” says owner and manager Meghan Hogan. “I’m catering to young mums and I sell work boots and men’s clothing. I also cater to the grey nomad – we get a lot of tourists, and that’s become an important part of the business, when it never used to be. We get a lot of visitors from Brisbane and the Gold Coast on weekends.”
Scarborough’s was established in 1988 by Meghan’s parents, Jan and Bob Scarborough, who initially ran it as a shoe shop. Over the years, with help from Meghan and her sisters, it expanded to women’s clothing and more. Meghan bought the business outright in 2015 – precipitating further expansion in so many different style directions.
The recent hardships of COVID-19, and before that bushfires, have brought out the resilience, imagination and loyalty in Meghan and her business. When the pandemic first struck, once she had ensured her full-time junior member of staff could be kept on (Scarborough’s was able to stay open during the first lockdown of 2020, as it was deemed an essential service), her mind immediately turned to how the business might pivot to stay afloat.
“I went home and did as many courses as I possibly could on how to run an online store,” says Meghan. “I used the Business Connect program through Nortec, a lot of seminars and Zoom sessions, YouTube. I signed up and did everything I could, and I’ve built up my online store.”
Scarborough’s online store has proven immensely popular. Meghan even sends orders out to Western Australia and South Australia. This online presence proved particularly important when the shop had to close down for five weeks during the lockdowns of 2021.
“But we were busy as soon everything opened up, which made up for the closure, which was awesome.”
As for the bushfires of 2019 and 2020, Meghan says that though she “lost the tourist dollar” because of road closures, a major sale once the fires had subsided ensured cash-flow started ticking over once more. Another example of adapting and evolving in the face of adversity.
More recently, Meghan has brought in a third generation of her family. Daughter Kirsty Sawtell has launched her own line of baby gifts and homewares.
“She’s in here with a pop-up shop within my store, and it’s just starting to get going for her. It’s offering something else to the town that isn’t here otherwise.”
This new initiative sees Scarborough’s serving yet another section of the Kyogle community – and of course visitors. In many ways, the store can be seen as a symbol of how this unique town is changing, becoming ever more open, ambitious and inclusive.
“I think it’s a really exciting place to have a small business,” says Meghan. “I think it’s on the brink of something great. I love doing business in Kyogle because I know so many people. I’m fourth generation, so I’m kind of a fixture. Being able to be that person in the community to tell visitors about Kyogle is something I really enjoy. It’s such a family community and I feel really blessed to have my business here.”