“The fact is Camden is changing – and the success and viability of our little street will be determined by how we evolve.”
Camden Hotel owner Andrew Valcuikas wants Argyle Street business owners to take control of their future.
To help them do this Mr Valcuikas has started the Argyle Business Collective.
The group, which is made up of local retailers, restaurateurs and publicans, was established to work with Camden Council and bring more visitors to Camden’s main street.
“I have a vision of Camden becoming an ‘eat and entertainment’ street very much like Lygon Street in Melbourne or Norton Street in Leichhardt 10 years ago,” he said.
“Almost a festive affair – a hub of activity that is great for families where people can wander up street and listen to live music wafting out of local venues.
“We have a beautiful, picturesque little town that cannot be replicated anywhere else so we need to actually design and implement ideas and initiatives that take advantage of what we have.”
Mr Valcuikas said the collective had plenty of great ideas up their sleeves.
“We’re looking to establish permanent fairy lights up and down the street to create a real fairytale feeling to draw families in,” he said.
“Obviously we also have these beautiful jacarandas on the street so we could also establish a jacaranda festival when they are in bloom.
“The council has spent millions of dollars beautifying our street and we need to take advantage of that, so we are working with council to have input in the redrafting of alcohol free zones and outdoor dining bylaws.”
At the moment Argyle Street is an alcohol-free zone but Mr Valcuikas hoped the rules can be adjusted so that alcohol can be served to diners on the main street from Thursday to Sunday from 5pm to 10pm.
“As an example of how we are working with council, the Live and Local music festival will be extended this year,” he said.
“Council gets funding to run the event on the Saturday but local businesses will foot the bill for more live entertainment on the Friday night as well.
“Council is going to incorporate that in the advertising for the event so that is one way we can leverage off what council is already doing
“It will be a two-day drawcard for Argyle Street.”
Mr Valcuikas has operated the Camden Hotel for the past 13 years.
He said he had seen the main street change dramatically in that time but there was one thing that set Camden apart from other areas.
“Our strength is that these businesses are owned and operated by local families so they take incredible pride in the services they offer.”