If there weren’t already enough reasons to love the small Scenic Rim town of Kalbar, now there are half a dozen more.
Six new small businesses have opened in Kalbar’s CBD in the last six months, reinvigorating the town and boosting confidence among existing operators.
The new ventures add to the charming town, which caters to the surrounding farming district and is already well-serviced by a post office, doctors, police, butcher, bank, pub, real estate agency, newsagency, pharmacy, hairdressers, beauticians, hardware store, service station and more.
If that list isn’t impressive enough now the town can also boast a chiropractor, new cafe and gift shops and new luxury accommodation.
Business owners have attributed their success to the town’s strong community spirit.
Invest Scenic Rim introduces six new Kalbar businesses.
1. Passion for town drives investment
Herrmann House sits grandly on George Street, Kalbar, heralding a time of renewed investment and pride in the small town.
Entrepreneur April Cornwell and her husband Paul Cornwell have just opened the accommodation house, and are also behind the stunningly restored White Chapel and Black Hall wedding and conference venues up the road.
The Cornwells moved an original 1880s house from nearby Munbilla to George Street and combined it with the historic Chant’s Cottage to create the large, luxurious homestead fit for brides-to-be, couples and families.
They named their lovingly restored work, ‘Herrmann House’ to honour former owners of the house shifted from Munbilla and to keep history alive.
April said it was about combining the old with the new.
“These houses will live for another hundred years at least, if people look after them. Towns get forgotten, and there’s so much history here that we need to carry through,” she said.
“I’d love to be a town of surprises, and have that marriage of the history of this town with the new things we’re doing.”
2 & 3. Shared shopfront opens doors for diverse duo
If it weren’t for some outside the box thinking from a local real estate agent, Sarah Bottle and Jade Cook may never have opened their own shop in Kalbar.
Sarah and Jade were complete strangers, each keen to open a shop, when Kalbar Real Estate introduced them to one another and suggested they share the rent on a spacious Edward Street shopfront.
They opened on October 3 and, a few months in, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah, a teacher by trade who recently moved to Kalbar, sells a selection of well-priced gifts and small homewares to a steadily growing base of loyal local customers through Elegance & Grace.
She proudly stocks leatherwork and watercolours from local couple Gordon and Marjorie Tate, as well as metal sculpture works from Mutdapilly craftsman Nathan Kliese of Cowboy Nathan’s Creations.
Jade, who has a background in management and has run her own home-based business, offers aromatherapy massages, nails, tanning and make-up and sells doTERRA essential oils through Empowered Soul & Limitless Beauty.
Sarah and Jade put their success down to local support and having a point of difference.
“It’s got to be locals supporting locals and helping ensure everyone can be viable,” said Sarah.
“We’re making sure we each do something a little bit different otherwise you’re in competition, and this town is too small for that.”
4. Lovett at Kalbar keeps it fresh
Serving up an abundance of fresh salads simply makes sense when you are surrounded by a patchwork of high-production vegetable paddocks.
A fresh approach is exactly what Lindsay Yong Gee (nee Lovett) brought to the table when she opened Lovett at Kalbar on the corner of George Street and Edward Street on September 24.
Lindsay was already a familiar face around town, having worked at the Arthur Clive Bakehouse in Kalbar for three and a half years when the opportunity came up to purchase the business and make it her own.
She employs about half a dozen casual staff, and the ongoing support of her regular customers keeps the team busy.
“People are loving the change with the salads, and they’ll come buy a big salad, go across to Butcher Co. for some meat and take it home for dinner,” she said.
“We bake our own muffins and biscuits on site and still sell the Arthur Clive’s pies, although one day we’d love to do our own pies. Everyone still loves a good pie. And they love the Arthur Clive’s breads, which we still sell.”
5. Chiro loves Kalbar country practice
When chiropractor Dr Cristina Rodes was looking to do business in a country town, Kalbar stood head and shoulders above the rest because of its professionalism and its great coffee.
Dr Cristina quietly opened Wellness One on Kalbar’s George Street on July 4 and has grown her customer base purely through word of mouth.
Her Kalbar clinic, which is open each Wednesday and Friday, is in addition to the Milton clinic she has been running for a decade.
Dr Cristina – who has been in practice for 31 years this December – said it was easy to connect in Kalbar.
“I’ve always worked with a team of practitioners, and in Kalbar I’ve already started working with all the massage therapists in town, the GPs etc. We’re creating connections with whoever is in health,” she said.
“I live in Washpool and I looked around for a few years before I chose Kalbar. I didn’t want a big practice, and I didn’t want a big town. I love how everybody knows everybody, and there is a sense of professionalism.
“Every single practice I’ve ever had has to have been within walking distance of great coffee. And they do great coffee here (at Lovett at Kalbar, formerly Arthur Clive’s Bakehouse).
“There’s a sense of growth in this town and it’s developing now and there is this buzz at the town meetings. Kalbar has been a great decision for us.”
6. Kalbar the place to be for BMK.Collective
A small homewares store filled to the brim with eclectic treasures sourced from around the globe is bringing the world to Kalbar.
Gold Coast siblings Bee O’Connell and Michael Gray opened BMK.Collective on George Street in March and they have been doing a steady trade each Thursday to Sunday ever since.
They have new stock arriving every week and sell a variety of boho Moroccan, Indian and coastal homewares.
Bee and Michael chose Kalbar after their parents moved to the area three years ago.
Bee, who has been in retail her whole life and also runs a garage door business on the Gold Coast, said Kalbar was an attractive place to do business.
“To be honest we loved White Chapel Kalbar which (entrepreneur) April Cornwell had restored on George Street, we spotted this little shop, had a chat to the owner and opened at Easter time and here we are,” she said.
“We had people flocking in as soon as we opened the doors, the locals have been super excited and most of our trade is actually people coming from Brisbane and the Gold Coast on weekends. They come out and have coffee and lunch and a look around the Scenic Rim.”
Community groundswell in Kalbar
Beyond her investment in restoring beautiful old buildings in Kalbar, April Cornwell is a driving force behind a groundswell of inspiration in the town’s business community. She has facilitated well-attended community meetings and helped the Fassifern Lions Club secure $34,000 in funding towards a project in the Kalbar Civic Centre.
She said Kalbar was a town on the rise.
“The people here make you feel so much like you’re part of something, and that’s not something you can buy, it’s not something you’ll find on Facebook, and it’s not something you’ll find on the internet. The people here are just so positive and so full of well-meaning – it makes you just want to put down roots here,” she said.
“There’s been a groundswell in the community – watch this space.”