Karalee Hardware owner Andy Hunter.
Karalee Hardware owner Andy Hunter. Cordell Richardson

Customers 'in tears' as another Ipswich business closes

FOR ALL the excitement surrounding the massive expansion project happening at Karalee Shopping Centre, it may have been easy to miss the fact that a long standing business is set to close this year.

Karalee Hardware owners Andy and Pauline Hunter recently announced the independent shop would close in March, after more than 11 years in business.

The decision was attributed to a breakdown in negotiations between the Hunters and the centre's owner, Consolidated Properties, over where the hardware business would be relocated within the centre.

Karalee Shopping Centre is in the midst of an $80 million expansion that will result in more than double the retail space and the arrival of several major tenants, including Coles and McDonald's.

The shop space currently occupied by the hardware will be taken over by a discount variety shop.

While admitting to being sad about the imminent closure, Mr Hunter said it was one he and Pauline had to make.

"We were offered space in stage 3 of the new centre but in the end I believed it was not suitable," Mr Hunter said.

"The shame of it is that I believe we still had a few good years left in us.

"I am sad about it but I have come to the conclusion that it is what it is."

Loyal customers have passed on messages of support to the Hunters after learning of the decision, while also conveying their disappointment that yet another independent hardware store will be closing.

"We have had people coming in in tears," Mr Hunter said.

"An old bloke said he wanted to buy a chain and a padlock to lock himself to the front doors so that we couldn't leave; that has been the sentiment."

The hardware store's pool services will be taken over by Pauly the Pool Man at Brassall, while the hardware side will be taken over by A Wood Shed, also at Brassall.

Karalee Hardware is one of only a few independent hardware stores remaining in the Ipswich area.

In the past 10 years, hardware stores at Karana Downs, North Ipswich, Ipswich central, Bellbowrie and Kenmore have shut down.

Mr Hunter credited his own survival to maintaining a carefully selected range of products and customer service.

"We try to keep our staff knowledgeable so that anyone can come in here and ask what might seem like a silly question and get a good answer," he said.

The Hunters are planning to retire after they close in March and are looking forward to doing some travelling.