May not make a motza, but tea is the best brew in town

IT’S festival time and, like clockwork, talk has turned to star spotting, traffic traps and Tamworth businesses jacking up prices.

But while some businesses will again be guilty of making moolah while the sun shines over the next nine days, not all are facing a golden payday.

Some, like The Old Bell Tower on Marius St, actually lose business as festival-averse regulars stay away from their favourite haunts.

“In the past it’s been quieter than normal because our everyday customers stay away,” Old Bell Tower owner Lucy Haslam said.

“We don’t put our prices up – we never have – and while last year we simplified the menu, we’re not even doing that this year.

“We’re hoping this year is a bit busier but it’s an unknown quantity.”

She said while some country music stars like Sara Storer and John Williamson made regular stopovers at the tea house, it often took the new visitors to town a week to “discover” it.

“By the end of the second week visitors begin finding us,” Mrs Haslam said.

“The tourist information centre sends people here and we advertise in the motels, but what more can you do than try to tell people you’re here?

“In the end, we’re the sort of business that’s really here for locals.”

Mrs Haslam and her husband Lou established The Old Bell Tower four years ago and have built it up to boast the widest selection of teas in Tamworth.

Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates said while some businesses raised prices during the festival, they were in the minority.

“Certain businesses do elevate their prices but that’s something you see in a lot of resort areas that get a seasonal fluctuation in trade,” Mr Coates said.

“Many reputable local businesses hold their prices during festival.”

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