Cameron’s H Hardware in Batemans Bay on the New South Wales South Coast was located in the epicentre of the devastating 2019 bushfires that destroyed thousands of homes and burned 24 million hectares of land.
Apocalyptic conditions were described in the Batemans Bay area at the time with store owner Mick Weyman saying it has changed the way his customers purchase emergency equipment forever.
“What we have been doing all winter is stocking up on generators because we are finding that a lot of the rural type people who live on land and acreage out here have water pumps that are run by electricity. So when the power goes out, they cannot fight fires and protect their property because they have no power to run the water. This is why we stock up on our generators first and foremost. This is number one for us.”
“Number two is we try to get as many of the firefighter pumps in-store as we can. We have at least two or three of these on hand at any one time because those, and the IBC’s, are really good sellers at the minute because they are portable. Users can put it on the back of their ute or on their trailer and then they can use 1000 litres of water and a firefighting pump ready to go,” Mick said.
Generators and pumps now remain a priority in-store because locals know that this is the equipment that will save properties and lives when bushfires break out. Once the 2019 fires became quite large in the local area, it became difficult to have much-needed products delivered to the store which is why it is so important to continually have stock on hand, Mick said.
“We were lucky that we had a fair few generators and pumps in stock at the time of the fires. I also spoke with Westinghouse immediately after the fires and I asked them to try and get a truck full of generators through so we could distribute these to our customers.”
“When the road opened, they sent a semi-trailer through full of generators and this market took off from there. Before the fires, surprisingly, the market was not in demand. The fires really took us by surprise and now everyone has a generator and a pump and they are a lot more prepared than what they used to be.”
The OPE space remains very steady within the store because locals are vigilant in cleaning up their properties and ensuring they are well-prepared for the upcoming bushfire season.
“Our STHIL and Makita chainsaws do really well because most people utilise fire places to heat their properties and use them to clean up their properties as well,” Mick said.
Looking to the season ahead, there is no doubt locals are a little anxious when there is talk of another potentially dangerous bushfire season.
“You get a couple of hot days and you only need to see smoke now and people will panic.”
“Locals think the worst straight away. But we are way more prepared than we once were and I think the locals are too,” he concluded.