PRICED OUT: Miles resident Bruce Hooper says he and his wife Pat can no longer afford to shop locally.
PRICED OUT: Miles resident Bruce Hooper says he and his wife Pat can no longer afford to shop locally. Julia Baker

Miles ruled by the almighty dollar

SINCE they moved to their property, Madowla, more than 20 years ago, Bruce and Pat Hooper have always shopped locally in Miles but they said exorbitant prices were now forcing them to travel to Chinchilla and beyond just to do their shopping.

Mr Hooper said Miles business owners have "lost the traditional art of shopkeeping" and said what was once a thriving town is now a town simply "ruled by the almighty dollar."

But that claim is disputed by the Miles and Districts Chamber of Commerce.

"Our opinion is the same as a lot of other people. It's a pity really, when we came here 20 years ago it was totally different. The people who had the businesses in town were really helpful and really nice," he said.

"We've been in business very successfully. They balance the books once a month and the more they go into the red, the more they put their prices up, which is not the right thing to do. There's only one way they're going to end up," he said.

Mr and Mrs Hooper believe the closure of Origin's 400-bed Condabri workers camp is not the answer to Miles' economic woes.

The couple said the Miles and District Chamber of Commerce's needs to do more to support local business and its not financially viable for residents to answer their call to "shop local."

"Since we've been here we have been loyal to Miles, we've always shopped in Miles and then the prices started going goes against the grain when you're telling people to shop local but they can't afford to," Mrs Hooper said.

"The chamber needs to support them, it's not cheap running a business in Miles I'm sure... you start shopping where you can buy things cheaper, whether it be in Chinchilla or online and once you start doing that you don't go back; it's finished."

Mr Hooper said the chamber had "missed the boat."

"They're talking about Condabri closing down and bringing the workers back into town but it's not very often you get a second opportunity. I just don't think it's going to work."

Chamber President John Hoffmann said the "grass is always greener" for some locals and that there is no truth to the claim that Miles businesses are inflating their prices.

"If these people don't shop locally, then these little stores don't buy at the right price. Certain people are never happy, you can't do much about it," he said.

Mr Hoffmann said the Chamber cannot control individual businesses and is focused on bringing the population back into town.

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