Trent Haynes has been in the fruit and veg business all his working life.
The 40-year-old Newcastle father of four school-age boys worked 13 years at Woolworths and more recently for other wholesale and retail produce companies.
Last year he realised a long-time dream when he struck out on his own at The Crunchy Carrot Wholefood Market in Beaumont Street.
The business, like many new enterprises, struggled for six months before slowly starting to turn around in the last three months of 2017.
But changes to Newcastle’s transport network have hit hard this year, helping cut the store’s revenue by 40 per cent, and Mr Haynes has made the gut-wrenching decision to close down.
“I feel defeated,” he told the Newcastle Herald before shutting the shop’s doors for the last time on Friday.
“I’m a pretty proud person. I thought I could make a difference to people’s eating habits, giving them good produce at good prices.”
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has been fighting to have buses reinstated after the new network, launched in January, bypassed Beaumont Street.
Mr Haynes acknowledged that his business faced other financial pressures, but the “buses and the transport interchange is probably what capped it in the end”.
“It wasn’t necessarily the buses coming down the street,” he said. “We had people coming from Mayfield and Lambton, because the Commonwealth Bank closed in those areas. People used to catch one bus, but now they have to catch two and three, which is ridiculous.
“They just stopped coming. Almost half of our business we lost.”
Mr Haynes said the store could have survived if not for the downturn this year.
“I think we would have been OK. We probably would have been able to catch up on the rent if the figures had stayed the same. After six months we were starting to make money, and then this happened.”
The number of homeless people, beggars and people with mental health problems in Beaumont Street had also turned off customers.
Mr Haynes has found work in a Sydney fruit market four days a week but sees only a long road ahead.
“I’ve applied for a fair few jobs around Newcastle and just nothing.
“Before I took over the shop I was in Sydney for three years driving back and forth every day, and it just got horrendously too much. We’ll see what happens this time. I’ll just keep on applying for jobs in the local area.”
Hamilton chamber president Nathan Errington said many shops had suffered from the bus changes and called on bus company Keolis Downer to “walk Beaumont Street with the chamber and hear first-hand the stories of business owners”.