HE has been an iconic fixture at the top of the Ipswich mall for close to six years, but like many others, Ernie is about to choofed off as heavy machinery takes over.

Ernie Vascotto is known for his warm smile and willingness for a friendly chat but he could lose his post at the mall selling The Big Issue as renovations start to take shape.

The Big Issue is a not-for-profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives.

STILL HERE: Ernie Vascotto is known for his warm smile and willingness for a friendly chat.
STILL HERE: Ernie Vascotto is known for his warm smile and willingness for a friendly chat. Emma Clarke

He's not too worried as there are plenty of other places in Ipswich CBD for Ernie to set up his fold out chair and magazine display but he will have to give up his birds-eye view of the evolution of the mall.

"I've seen the mall change a lot in that time, even the Woolworths is changing all the time. They rekon they're going to build a road through it or a water fountain but I don't believe it," he said.

"It's a bit hard for the business in the mall now, there inst a lot of foot traffic."

Ernie has moved to the intersection of Ellenborough and Brisbane St to make the most of the Top of Town hustle and bustle.

"I like to help the homeless by selling The Big Issue and by taking tips in a bowl I have here," he said.

"I've been doing it for over six year. I started it just for something to do.

Demolition work continues in the Ipswich City Square site.
Demolition work continues in the Ipswich City Square site. David Nielsen

"I used to work in a workshop making cupboards, chairs, beds, things like that but now I do this. I like selling Big Read because I like to help others out and talk to all sorts of different people."

Demolition of the mall ramped up this week as 'the claw' set to work ripping down the old car park on Bremer St and business owners in the CBD spent the weekend frantically packing up after being given their marching orders.

While 20 business have either already left or are preparing to leave, others are persevering and keeping their doors open.



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