The Trader Store isn’t your average café. Since opening a hardware store over eight years ago, it’s evolved into a stylish homewares haven with a café serving barista-made coffee and authentic Mexican food. Located in the northern New South Wales town of Uralla and owned by local parents-of-three Tara and Nathan Whitton, the café has become a space for the community to gather and enjoy.
“Most people don’t get The Trader Store, it’s pretty eclectic,” explains owner, barista and chef Nathan Whitton. “It’s all the things we enjoy doing – and we were able to keep the hardware store going by opening up the café. I’m actually in my happy place when I’m in the kitchen.”
Uralla is a “through town” on a bustling tourist route and a good proportion of café customers come through on weekends and during school holidays, mingling with the locals to create a unique atmosphere.
“Different groups come from all over everywhere and people always come back,” Tara explains. “It’s a place that people like to come together and meet, a non-judgemental, safe space. We accept people for who they are.”
But when the pandemic shuttered the entire state of New South Wales Tara and Nathan didn’t know what to do. “First we had the bushfires, then because of drought our water supply was tainted with arsenic, and then COVID hit. We went from being busy to nothing,” explains Nathan.
Without the usual tourist traffic, many businesses in town were suffering. “Being a small community, everyone got together, supporting all locals wherever they could,” explains Nathan. “That really did keep us going.”
But it wasn’t until Nathan saw information about the Harris Café Recovery Project online and filled out an application form that things really started looking up.
“Getting this funding from Harris is amazing, it’s overwhelming”, says Nathan. “It’s given us a head start to get back on our feet and we’ll be able to give back to the community as well. We haven’t been able to do any fundraising or anything like we normally would since COVID – everything’s gone into survival mode.”
Under the support from Harris, The Trader Store’s benefitting from thousands of dollars in equipment, training and product – including free Harris coffee beans for a year, and a brand-new, state-of-the-art coffee machine.
“To have the support of such a wonderful brand, is humbling because it means that it takes the pressure off,” adds Tara. “I have no words for how it feels to have that kind of support backing us. We are blown away with how much support they’ve provided. We feel so, so lucky.”