Small businesses find a way to keep community thriving

Small business is finding a way to adapt to recent changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with one co-working space soldiering on despite having to cancel grand plans for their opening.

The four women behind Workshop26 in Kimba - Pat Beinke, Carmen Rayner, Heather Baldock and Barb Woolford - have all been working hard for the past 12 months to bring their dream of a co-working space to life.

While the official opening, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed, the women are still ecstatic with how far they've come and how close they are to providing a space to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

"We took possession of the building (on High Street) on the first of July and have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours here," said Mrs Rayner.

"Where it all came from, is we all adore this town and community and we thought well, we should just put our money where our mouth is and encourage people to come out of their garages and sheds with their arts and crafts.

"We want to do what we can to keep artists and collaboration going."

The not-for-profit now houses the four womens' own businesses in glammed up shipping containers, as well as other creators and small business owners who have since moved out of operating from their houses and into the building.

"Small towns have to keep reinventing themselves to stay alive," said Mrs Baldock.

She said while the public and their husbands were initially hesistant, they too had gotten involved in bringing the workshop to life.

"It's gone from that initial 'are you sure?' to getting involved," she said.

The women said over the past 12 months, which involved a lot of cleaning off grease, the locals always felt comfortable popping in and picking up a broom or helping out in anyway they could.

Mrs Rayner said they couldn't have succeeded without the support of the community.

"People have really embraced it, and we want to give the ownership to the community," she said.

She said their project had also invigorated other businesses in town to do similar, such as a fresh coat of paint.

Mrs Woolford said they wanted Kimba to offer more than just the silo art and bring people into the main street and town to explore.

"The motivation we get from one's such a great collaborative space," she said.

"What makes it successful is not one of us could do it on our own."

The space has previously hosted successful market days and the women hope to hold markets quarterly once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

They also want creators to be able to run workshops in the space to teach others new skills.

"Making something physical gives you such a sense of accomplishment," said Mrs Rayner.

"Making should be an important part of everybody's life."

The women hope to eventually hold their opening when restrictions on gatherings are lifted, and are still asking anyone with memorabilia or photos of the building to share the history with them.

Workshop26 will first open by appointment only, with any changes to be posted to the space's Facebook and Instagram pages.

To book a time to visit, ring 0423 393 007 or message Workshop26's social media pages.