NEWS Whitsunday, the News Agency at Whitsunday Plaza, in Cannonvale, has a new owner with a special love for the Whitsunday community.
Richard Bates relocated to the Whitsundays with his partner Brian Thomas and their family, from the Gold Coast, joining his mum and dad and eldest son, who had already made the move.
Mr Bates has been a regular visitor to the region for three years, and was born and raised on Phillip Island, so he is no stranger to ‘small town’ life.
“I’ve always come here and felt it was like coming home,” he said.
“I grew up on Phillip Island, as a kid, so it was like coming home to a small country town.
“I absolutely love it. I love the banter, I love the amount of people that come in on a daily basis just to say g’day.
“Getting to know everybody, and all their support, has been absolutely incredible.”
Mr Bates owned three large Specsavers stores on the Gold Coast and is excited to switch things up a bit by purchasing the news agency.
“I wanted to have something where I could work with the locals but stay out of the health industry,” he said.
News Whitsundays has six dedicated employees, a stark difference to the 66 employees Mr Bates managed during his time on the Gold Coast.
“We can work more as a team together and achieve so much more,” he said.
News Whitsunday has expanded its back-to-school range, giftware items and stationery, as well as installing a fridge for cold drinks, following customer demand.
“I went down to Sydney recently and met with a lot of suppliers, so that we can expand the range, so that we can be a real destination store to support the local community,” Mr Bates said.
“As people ask us for various things, we’ll keep expanding and meeting various needs.
“My biggest thing is really wanting to expand and support the community, because I come from a small local community, and I’ve always believed that if you look after that local community, they will look after you.”
Mr Bates’ partner Brian is a nurse at Proserpine Hospital and the couple find their lives connecting through a professional sense now, as well.
“That was probably one of the things that brought us up here with the kids – the fact that he was very sought-after at the hospital.
“We’ve had lots of feedback from the community, both at the hospital and the newsagency, because it’s all connected, everyone chats up here.
“People come in here to buy a lotto ticket after they’ve been through the hospital, so it is a real community. It’s absolutely beautiful and very welcoming.”