Historic, 79-year-old Melbourne toy shop Dafel Dolls & Bears has announced that it is closing down.
Speaking to Toy & Hobby Retailer, owner Lisa Seaton said that the decision was a difficult one to make, but that the current conditions made it challenging to make any future commitments.
"There's so much uncertainty that it's hard to make decisions and [we've] not [had] much help from landlords. With the uncertainty of JobKeeper we just can't make any other decision," she said.
Similar to many other retailers, the business was closed during lockdown, but reopened three weeks ago.
However, the business has not been given much support in the form of rent relief, meaning that despite minimal takings Seaton will still have to pay rent for the closure period, albeit at a discounted rate.
"We were closed from the middle of March and we've been open for three weeks now, so I requested if we could have free rent for April, May and June because our takings were zero and they said no," Seaton said.
"We're basically going to empty our bank account paying rent for April, May, June, July and August.
"Then you've got JobKeeper - I don't have to cover my wage because JobKeeper is covering that - but once that finishes it's just going to be impossible.
"Our lease runs out at the end of August which..is a really hard time to work out what we're doing. We really have no choice but to close down," she said.
To help sell the stock in her inventory, Seaton is in the process of setting up a website.
"We've never had a website before because we're pretty old school.
"We like everyone to come in and enjoy the store.
"We've been around for 79 years and we've always had that personal touch and customer service but I'm pretty much left with the whole store full of stock because no-one's coming into my closing down sale.
"Websites are new to me and it's all just going to be a learning curve," she said.
First announcing the decision to close on Facebook, Dafel's loyal customers and fans flooded the comment section with heartfelt comments and support.
"Very sad to see you are closing, Dafel is my 'must go to' store whenever I visit Melbourne. Glad to see you will still be accessible online. Thankyou for the many years of pleasure you have given to the community - a shop to always bring smiles and happiness to many. Very best wishes to you," one commenter wrote.
"I've been coming to Dafel since I was a little girl with my mother and back then it was a felt shop which mum always bought felt and made handmade toys. Since becoming an adult I now have bought many a doll from there. Now living in the country I always visit Dafel when in Melbourne. Very sad and the end of an era for many a people. Good luck with what ever you do," another user posted.
Dafel Dolls & Bears will close at the end of August.