Nicola Reindorf turned up for work at The Standard Store on Wednesday to discover the locks had been changed and she was unable to enter her Surry Hills fashion boutique.
“As of today [October 1] I can’t go into our store, and it’s a horrible, vicious situation for us,” says Reindorf. “I had been planning to employ new staff, and right now I should be buying stock for next season, but instead I’m embroiled in what has turned into a complete nightmare.”
For nine years Reindorf and her husband Orlando Reindorf have run The Standard Store on Crown Street, but on Tuesday their lease was terminated because they had only managed to pay 70 per cent of their rent for the month.
“We paid 70 per cent because our business is down due to our other Melbourne store being shut, and we acted on what we believed were the government guidelines and the Covid-19 Retail Code of Conduct,” she says.
“The message I got from [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison was that this is the time for retailers to negotiate, but unfortunately our landlord refused. He sent a legal letter saying if we don’t pay by 5pm on Tuesday he would terminate our lease, and we are locked out of our building and can’t access our stock or fulfil any online orders.”
Last night the couple were told by their real estate agency, Spencer & Servi, they had three hours to get everything out of the store today, and they are moving existing stock into their home. “This will allow us to hopefully continue with our online store,” they wrote on Instagram.
The Reindorfs are now figuring out their next move for their shop, which since 2011 has stocked an eclectic and coveted mix of hand-picked labels from Europe, Scandinavia and the US. It remains one of the few independent fashion boutiques in the area, and has been a stalwart of a neighbourhood renowned for its bustling mix of cafes, bars and retail.
“We love Surry Hills and our beautiful little strip of small businesses,” says Reindorf. “It’s like a village here, with a strong community of creatives, and the retail is the opposite of what you would find in a Westfield.”
The duo is considering moving into one of the empty stores near its Crown Street location. Like many other shopping and hospitality strips in Sydney, Crown Street has been decimated by Covid – which came on the back of disruptions in the area due to installation of the light rail.
“We will not take this lying down and we are not closing down,” says Reindorf. “Covid has been incredibly tough for us but hopefully when we come out the other side, people will really see the value of supporting local businesses. We will stand up for what we believe in and we will not be defeated.”
When contacted by Broadsheet, the Reindorfs’ real estate agency Spencer & Servi declined to comment.