TEN business owners are trying to stop Riverstone Marketown shopping centre from becoming a "ghost centre" by offering customers the chance of winning a $17,000 car as a raffle prize.
Up until December 21, residents and visitors who spend $10 at the participating shops get a voucher to place in the barrel. The first prize is a Mitsubishi Mirage sports car, the second prize a barbecue set with gas bottle and $100 of meat, and the third prize is a giant Christmas hamper with goods worth hundreds of dollars.
Riverstone Chamber of Commerce is backing the campaign of the owners, who say Blacktown Council's eight-year delay on its proposed $25 million redevelopment of Marketown is turning it into a "ghost centre". The group's co-ordinator, John Emmery, said they were using money accumulated by 10 shops' monthly marketing budget (part of their leases) to pay for the car.
Mr Emmery said this money was previously held by their leasing agent, who organised marketing activities.
"We decided to spend the whole year's budget on this promotion," he said. "I developed and co-ordinated the printing of 3000 advertising leaflets for distribution while other shopkeepers were responsible for other roles."
Shop owner Cassandra Hooper said they decided to take matters in their own hands by holding the raffle because, they said, Blacktown Council had forgotten them.
"We want to let Blacktown Council know that we are not giving up on Riverstone," Ms Hooper said.
A spokeswoman for Riverstone Chamber of Commerce said the drop in the number of customers was also caused by the opening of the new Schofields railway station.
She said there were more customers when commuters used to board and alight at Riverstone station.