RETAIL INSTITUTION: Booval Fair shopping centre marketing manager Lauren Roche.
RETAIL INSTITUTION: Booval Fair shopping centre marketing manager Lauren Roche. David Nielsen

Centre takes pride in catering to mix of local shoppers

WE TAKE them for granted, but our local stores and businesses are significant in our day-to-day life.

Booval Fair is one such shopping centre that has endeared itself to locals since it opened in 1969.

Its sheer longevity is testament to its ability to meet the needs of locals.

The Booval Fair of today is a far cry from the original centre that was opened on November 27, 1969 as the Woolworths Family Centre.

It was an exciting addition to Booval and the greater Ipswich area as it brought a Woolworths supermarket and the Big W department store to the local area.

According to Woolworths Properties, it was the first of these developments in Australia and following its success spawned many more around the country.

The new concept of the "Woolworths Family Centre" included some specialty shops and the two major tenants.

It changed the landscape of the suburb and retailing for good in the local area.

Some of the original physical structure is evident today, but importantly the Booval Fair of today still has those core values that were laid along with the bricks and mortar.

"Customers treat us like old friends, these are people who have lived in the area for most of their lives and others have come more recently. It is a convenient centre for locals," according to Booval Fair's Marketing Manager Lauren Roche.

Booval Fair has the two major anchor tenants in Woolworths and Big W but now has more than 55 specialty stores in the centre.

"We have always been about customer convenience and our focus is making sure we have the right tenancy mix in the centre. We are building on what we have. Yes Optus has moved near Big W, we also welcome A1 Sushi and Technology Traders," she said.

While Ms Roche was tight-lipped on detail there is no doubt there are some exciting changes to come to the centre in the next 12 months.

"We will have some store relocations and some national brands coming," she said.

It may surprise you to know that Booval Fair has 3.5 million customer visits per year with 1276 car parks, the majority of them undercover.

It is the undercover car park that not only protects customer vehicles from the heat and storms but is also home to the Oz Night Markets each Saturday late afternoon and evening.

Booval Fair prides itself on customer focus and is delighted to be part of the City Heart Cabs Program.

"Our customers can come from nearby suburbs for just $2 each way. The service is supported by Ipswich City Council and Yellow Cabs to assist pensioners, those with a disability and their carers," Ms Roche said.

"We have a community notice board to help our customers to promote events or a garage sale two weeks out from the date absolutely free of charge. The board is located outside Big W. In addition we also provide charities and not for profits access to casual leasing in the centre. For example each year we have the daffodil ladies raising funds for cancer research but we also have smaller groups who need to raise funds or awareness," she said.

The centre caters to both an ageing population and a new generation who are calling Booval and surrounding suburbs home.

"We do have many shoppers whose parents shopped here when they were children. It reflects the Ipswich spirit.

"It is a unique shopping centre in many ways. We recognise that we do have a changing population and are respectful to our older customers and their needs and also cater for our younger customers," she said.

It is an interesting customer mix but stores like Woolworths and Big W, Harvest market, eateries and the like are universal.

With Christmas not too far away the centre will show off some stunning new LED decorations.

"We want to give back to our community so we have already given some of our former decorations to the Ipswich Hospital Foundation and have more to give away," she said.

They are in excellent condition but want to rehome them to some worthy groups." If you think that you could use these contact Ms Roche at the centre.

Santa photos will be in the centre from Saturday, November 29 and for something totally different even your pet can get into the festive season by getting a photo with Santa at Pet Barn. This zany event is on November 15 and 16.

Booval Fair with Pet Barn can give you a chance to rehearse getting your pet looking glamorous by entering a fashion parade on October 18 and 19 in the family fun weekend.

There will be a petting zoo, balloon artist and all supporting the work of the RSPCA. It is a way of engaging with the community and supporting a charity.

"We are running what we are calling Boovalloween, our version of Halloween, with spooky story time at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm on October 30, we will have trick or treat with our retailers and it is for the whole family, people can book in through centre management," she said.

Fresh paint, new signage and ongoing maintenance are all part of keeping the centre a nice place to visit.

"We have an awesome team of cleaners who keep it looking great all the time, it is the little things that matter," she said.

From its history it is often referred to as "Big Dub" and Ms Roche said that everyone just seems to know Booval Fair by either name.

"At the end of the day it is what the name means to our customers and that is great customer service and meeting needs," she said.

Booval Fair is located at the corner of Station and Brisbane Rds, Booval. Centre Management can be contacted on 3281 0655 or visit boovalfair.com.au



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