Home' Border Enterprise : Enterprise Spring-Summer 2009 Contents 5
RON CUMMINS has 45 years'
experience as a watchmaker and
jeweller, 30 of those in Centro
Lavington shopping centre.
He's seen the centre grow to more
than 60 shops and is happy to note that 20,000
to 30,000 people walk past his door each week
since a $33 million centre upgrade was completed
Those who step inside his store range from the
casual shopper to families who have been buying
jewellery, watches or clocks from him for up to
He is passionate about the merits of doing
business in a modern shopping centre rather that
the traditional shopping strip.
However, he says newcomers can't take success
"Some are scared off by the rent, and others who
have come in have no perception of what the retail
trade is,'' he said.
"Researching your market and gaining
knowledge about it is essential before you decide
what you are going to do.
"You need to promote and advertise your
business, and continue to let people know you are
"A lot of people wait for business that just
Mr Cummins says there have been several
failures among folk who used work payouts
to open businesses but hadn't made the right
Asked to list the advantages of working in a large
shopping, he says without hesitation: "Parking.''
"People are lazy,'' he says. "They like to park right
next to shops and don't want to park a few blocks
"The shopping centres with car parks have fixed
that, as you can park within 200 metres of our front
Still, he admits the concept took about 10 years
to gain wide acceptances in Albury-Wodonga as
the way of the future retail scene.
Since the original Lavington centre opened as
Border Shoppingtown in 1979, several new ones
have opened in the twin cities.
Mr Cummins has witnessed the steady growth of
Centro Lavington but even he wasn't prepared for
the bonus created by the Albury-Wodonga Hume
Freeway, opened in March 2007.
"It's brought Wodonga's 33,000 people within
seven minutes of this centre, instead of the epic
journey through Albury that you had to make
before the freeway,'' he says.
Mr Cummins worked 15 years in Dean St
learning his trade with Coronet Jewellers.
He concedes the independent specialist
"watchmaker and jeweller'' is a dying trade, but
says the service and expertise offered by chain-
store jewellers is different.
He is proud to be a Fellow of the British
Horological Institute, which requires a special
contribution to the field of watchmaking and
clockmaking, and keeps a stock of old spare parts
for practical, not nostalgic, reasons.
"I'm always being asked to fix things,'' he says.
While his business remains independent, he says
there's a big plus in being a member of a large
national buying group.
Like most businesses, he is prepared to diversify
into lines such as gift ware, but jewellery remains
his biggest element of business.
Mr Cummins says it's also prudent for business
people to be part of the community they serve.
Among other things, he is a justice of the peace
and is current acting president of the SS&A Club.
His advice for newcomers to this sort of business
is simple: "When you draw from the well of
prosperity, remember who dug it.''
This Centro Lavington retailer can't be blamed for
watching the clock, writes HOWARD JONES
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Centro Group chief Mark Wilson, left, celebrates Ron Cummins' 30 years at Lavington in July.
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