John Street will lose one of its signature retail outlets on Sunday, November 22 with the closure of Lawson's newsagency

RETIREMENT CALLS: Alison and Ken Lawson with Beveice Ingold, Lyn Burley and Elizabeth Tudor in their soon to be closed newsagency located in John Street.
RETIREMENT CALLS: Alison and Ken Lawson with Beveice Ingold, Lyn Burley and Elizabeth Tudor in their soon to be closed newsagency located in John Street.

John Street will lose one of its signature retail outlets on Sunday, November 22 with the closure of Lawson's newsagency.

Husband and wife team Ken and Alison Lawson have operated their business in the main street for 30 years and despite 12 months of marketing they have been unable to find a buyer keen on working the unsocial hours of a traditional newsagent.

"I think it was the 2:30am starts that put most people off buying the business," laughed Ken who has been doing those hours since July 1, 1990 when the former banker bought Chapman's Newsagency.

The family were living Sydney when they decided to return to Alsion's hometown with their two young daughters Elizabeth and Merryn.

"The girls weren't too happy about leaving their friends but I grew up at Hambleton Hill and Ken and I wanted to get out of Sydney so we made the decision to buy the newsagency," Alison said.

The couple were very happy they made that decision as they have loved running their own business despite the long hours seven days a week and only Good Friday and Christmas Day being non publishing days for the papers they sell.

In the heyday of print media the Singleton newsagency sold the most copies of agricultural masthead The Land newspaper in NSW with many going out in the milk lorries.

That is one of the big changes the Lawsons have seen during their tenure with nearly every young person today reading their news online.

"Hop on a train these days and virtually no one is reading a newspaper they are all on their mobiles reading something, whereas when I used to commute in Sydney 30 years ago everyone bought a newspaper to read on the train," Ken said.

"We still have many loyal customers who love their papers and magazines but we don't sell near the quantities we did once and we also provide more outlets with papers like supermarkets and petrol stations as people opt to buy from shops rather than a newsagent."

Where once they sold 1200 copies of the Australia Women's Weekly today it's more like three copies of each edition.

For 18 years they also operated an outlet in the Singleton Mall but it closed when that facility underwent a major upgrade.

A decision they said was the right one especially when their business took a major financial hit during 2015 as John Street was redeveloped.

"The moment the fencing went up for the redevelopment work, starting in early 2015, we lost at least 50 per cent of our turn-over and to be honest it hasn't really recovered," said Ken.

"We organised a petition and public meetings trying to convince Singleton Council that their design was not the one this town needed. We already had a narrow main street and now it is even worse and you can't park in those tiny spaces.

Alison and Ken Lawson about to say farewell to their business.

Alison and Ken Lawson about to say farewell to their business.

"Out the front of our shop we used to have plenty of parking spaces but they have gone and we are left with three spaces to service us and post office.

"People can't find a park so they shop elsewhere its as simple as that."

According to the Lawsons the redevelopment not only hurt their business but many others along the John Street.

"Once people change their shopping habits you cannot get them to change them back and that was the case in John Street. Plus why try and park your vehicle in those parking spots and then if you aren't too careful have the car door hit as you try and get out or your car," he said.

Although sad to be closing the newsagency that has operated in its John Street location since 1920s after three decades the couple say its time to retire and as Ken joked time to catch up on 30 years of home maintenance.

They plan to stay in town as the have family including a daughter living in Singleton and they do live the community. "I won't miss it when the papers arrive late thats for sure thats one stress I am glad to say farewell to," he said.

They wanted to thanks their loyal customers and also their wonderful staff who kept them sane during the 30 years.

Special mention to Jason Bates who has assisted with the early morning shifts Monday to Friday.

And Bill and Christine Trew who have done the home delivery for more than 20 years.

"Our staff have been wonderful, prepared to undertake any task, and for that we are forever grateful," said Alison.

Time now to reset the alarm clock in the Lawson household.