Canberra has a thriving online business community, but it’s still a city that’s still struggling with its image as a drug- and alcohol-addicted haven.
The city has been a magnet for international visitors for more than two decades, but recently, it has seen a steady drop in business.
While there are a handful of large companies based here, the majority of local businesses are small businesses, like a tattoo parlour, which have struggled to stay afloat for more then a decade.
Business owner Alex Smith said he’s been in the industry for 10 years and has had his share of challenges.
“It’s a bit of a grey area, it’s a little bit grey, but in a good way,” he said.
“I think we’re in a bit a transition phase here in Canberra.”
There are a lot of changes in the economy, and in Canberra there’s a lot more people coming and leaving.
“A lot of the businesses are being closed down and the tourism sector is not as big as it used to be.”
The downturn has hit the city particularly hard.
The Tourism Council of Australia estimates the city lost more than $6 million in revenue last year, with the majority coming from online advertising.
Business owner Chris Williams said the recession hit the community particularly hard because of the stigma surrounding the drug and alcohol problem.
“When you talk about a drug dealer, they’re always a drug addict,” he explained.
“They’ll talk about how they used to do drugs and how they can still do drugs, but they’ll talk in a very low-key, low-prestige way.”
Business owners like Mr Williams have been forced to turn to the internet to find new customers.
“When I was starting out, there was a lot online, and people were talking about how we’re selling drugs and alcohol and stuff,” he added.
“We were getting all this information and it’s hard for people to navigate it.”
For many of the online businesses, finding someone to work with has become more difficult because of increased scrutiny on drug and drink sales.
Alex Smith said it’s difficult for a business to find someone to fill a vacancy.
He said he started a small tattoo parlor that has a few customers online, but that it’s been struggling to find a client to work the shift.
“One of the reasons we’re struggling is because we have people who have no clue about our business, because they’re just going through the motions and doing what they’re doing, they don’t know what we do,” he told the ABC.
“So it’s really difficult to get a job.”
He said the decline in business has been especially hard for the tattoo artists who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
“The problem with our business is that it does take a lot out of our business,” he continued.
“Most of our clients come to us for the tattoos and we have to put in a lot in, and then they leave us because they can’t afford to pay.”
Topics:drugs-and-substance-abuse,business-economics-and of-business,drugs,australiaFirst posted November 16, 2018 17:39:53Contact Paul McGannMore stories from Canberra