‘We need a lifeline’: Marnoo Milk Bar nears close of business

The owners of Marnoo Milk Bar are desperate for a buyer to throw them a “lifeline” and purchase the business before trading ceases on March 29. 

Owners Robyn McLachlan and Norman McLean left their jobs, home and families in Melbourne five years ago to settle at Marnoo. 

The business was then put up for sale at the end of 2015, and still has not found a buyer.

Ms McLachlan said the milk bar was still a viable business, but recent family tragedy had started to take a toll. 

She lost two sisters and a brother to Huntington’s Disease in the last eight months. 

Ms McLachlan also had surgery in December, while business partner Mr McLean was still recovering from a shoulder and foot reconstruction. He must also undergo surgery on his other foot.

“Between running the business among ourselves we haven’t had time to recover and grieve – we are just exhausted,” she said.

The business’ original sale price was at $315,000, but this has decreased to $275,000. 

“It’s a great business – it’s three bedroom, has a six car garage, plenty of room for semi-trailers out the front and most importantly our figures are up and have tripled the figures of the previous owners,” Ms McLachlan said.

About 30 lookers had inspected the business in the last two and a half years.

“What this business offers is unbelievable and we can’t believe no one has purchased it yet – we really need somebody to throw us a lifeline before the end date,” Ms McLachlan said.

“Passing trade is strong, but residents are choosing to shop elsewhere. 

“Sadly locals are choosing bigger supermarkets over our local business – we have everything here and we can’t understand it – if you don’t choose it then you have to expect to lose it.

“We can’t get staff, we’re exhausted and we can’t do it all, so we had to come to this decision.”

The milk bar’s only other assistance has come from two women, 80 and 70 years old, from the Marnoo Country Women Association branch.

“They have really been the backbone,” Ms McLachlan said.

“We are still getting up at 5.30am to open at 7am every day – shearers passing through still want their pies and coffee, but we just can’t do it all on our own,” Ms McLachlan said. 

If the business was to shut Ms McLachlan said there would still be a cabinet on site where residents could collect their mail from, but parcels would need to be collected from the nearest Australia Post branch. 

She said the past 12 months had been tough for herself and her business partner, but they were still remaining positive. 

“We just have to have faith for the next four weeks – it’s the only way.”

It comes after Stawell business Scott’s Auto Electrics closed on Saturday, February 17 and put stickers up in the shopfront protesting against the high number of business closures in the region. 

Ms McLachlan said she was approached to put a sticker outside the milk bar. 

“We aren’t blaming anyone for what’s happened – it’s the society today and things are changing,” she said.