Oberon mayor Mark Kellum believes the exodus from Australia's capital cities during COVID-19 is beginning to shape the town's new retail sector.
Long term restoration project The Milbrey, which is a cafe, restaurant and gift shop housing local wares, held its official opening on January 31.
The Milbrey offers a fine dinning experience and prides itself on locally sourced ingredients. Run by experienced caterers, the new venture is the pet project of Drew and Amanda Bolton.
A little further down Oberon Street you will find gift shop Eclectopia, which opened in 2023 and is run by Chrissie O'Neill and Lyn Martin. Alongside a comprehensive online store, It has a quirky mix of gifts with an emphasis on Australian made.
Councillor Kellum said the stores reflect the changing demographic of Oberon.
"It's a post COVID thing. The Milbrey though, I think that's been in the back of someone's mind for quite some time," he said.
"But it is quite a change to the sorts of things that are available in Oberon. I think it's two things, it's post-COVID but it's also the general, slow changing of the demographic up here.
"There's a lot of people moving in and they're expecting different things and those expectations are being filled."
The new retail offerings come as the Oberon Pharmacy opened The Beauty Room on January 25, run by experienced staff member Hayley Byrom.
According to research data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), about 86,000 people left Sydney in the first two years of the pandemic - between June 2020 and June 2022.
Amongst the largest numbers to leave resided in Sydney suburbs of Parramatta, Fairfield and Sydney's inner city.
Cr Kellum said the changes in Oberon have been more gradual, impacted by changing worker conditions such as employers offering staff the option to work from home.
"There's a general movement of people from Sydney who come up here to often work from home, so they keep a low profile because they are in their home doing their job," he said.
"And there are changing expectations and the change in the sort of businesses we have is reflecting that."