Sole traders find a way

Local travel agents, Dimos Melifronides and Cyrus Mil, had to start selling shoes out of their store to survive. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 207380_01

Tate Papworth

A Cairnlea travel agent has turned to selling shoes from his agency to avoid financial ruin.

Cyrus Mil and his business partner Dimos took over the business in November. Things started well with a loyal employee and customer base, but four months later the world became a much different place.

“We were going really well but these COVID-19 restrictions came in and really hit the industry hard,“ Mr Mil said.

“We had to stand down four staff members and we have just as many working at home and on reduced hours.“

The store remains open to field questions from customers and to try to help get stranded travellers home, but Mr Mil said it isn’t enough.

“We still have to pay rent and we really wanted to make sure we’re still standing when this is all over,“ Mr Mil said.

“So we spoke to a few friends who own clothing stores and they sold us some shoes and shirts and we’ve started selling them out of the store.“

By appointment, the duo open the agency and sell the shoes to interested buyers.

“It looks a little unusual… people walk in to a travel agency and see shoes and clothing, but what else can we do?

“It’s actually gone alright so far, we’ve sold a few. We’re just trying to survive.“

Mr Mil said he was in the dark as to whether he was eligible for government assistance.

“Obviously we’ve seen lots of information on the government packages, but the problem is we don’t know what’s happening.

“We only took over this business four months ago and our accountant isn’t sure if we’re eligible for anything at this point.

“It’s frustrating because we can see there’s help out there, but no one can give us an answer.“

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