Most new businesses however chose Best Street and in 1898 Mrs Stowe set up a newsagency on the site of 96 Best Street. In 1902 Edward Watts followed the trend and moved his business around the corner to the site now occupied by the Shared Shop at 58 Best Street. Dan O'Connor established his Pioneer Store including a newsagency in 1903 a little further down Best Street on the site now occupied by the Royal Hotel bar. In the same year Walter Gregson took over Mrs Stowe's and extended his news business to retail as well as publishing.
It was a year of change in 1908 as Walter Gregson disposed of his newsagency to August Zimmerman, Clarence Mudge took over Edward Watts' and Dan O'Connor moved across the road and acquired Robert Hannon's store making way for the erection of Garden's new Royal Hotel.
Dan O'Connor's Pioneer Store, 1911 from The Progress of Sea Lake August Zimmerman's Newsagency, Best Street, 1911 from The Progress of Sea Lake.
An enterprising young man arrived in Sea Lake in 1909 to set up business, beginning what has became almost an institution in the district spanning three generations. Albert Arthur Stubbs was born in St Arnaud in 1877, the son of drapers Arthur and Eliza Stubbs who later moved to Charlton. After a brief period of hawking "Stubby" as he was affectionately known, purchased the drapery business from Mrs Bennett which was situated between the Commercial Bank and the Royal Hotel at 66 Best Street. In 1911 Stubby married Olive Maud Grigg of St Arnaud, also from a draper family and built the family home at 48 Sutcliff Street. When Dan O'Connor's Pioneer Store became available early in 1914, Stubby purchased the business and moved across Best Street but his stay on the north side of the shopping centre was short-lived.
To quote from the 'Sea Lake Times', "One of the most disastrous fires in the town's history occurred on Saturday September 5, 1914." The Times reported, "as a consequence a large slice of the town's principal business street is now a scene of ruin and desolation, only chimney stacks, blackened and twisted roofing iron and piles of debris indicating what was once a five chain frontage of shops and offices at the north-west end of Best Street. The shops were just closed or closing when the fire bell tolled its ominous warnings, the falling and bursting of a kerosene lamp in Mr B. Stubbs' shop causing the conflagration. The final football match had attracted a large crowd of people to the town and many of them had remained for the evening so that the street was thronged with awe-stricken spectators and fire fighters.