Driving down the street and doing your grocery shopping is not something many of us probably think twice about. The short 5, 10 minute drive to a shop that is full of fresh produce and supplies is the norm.
Unfortunately this has not been the case for local Wilcannia residents who, with only one small and often understocked IGA, have been forced to take the 400km round trip to Broken Hill to do their food shopping.
The ‘Friendly Grocer’ as it was called, would only carry the bare essentials. Most items were foods with good shelf life and very rarely did they stock adequate amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables.
However, this is all about to change.
At 11am on Friday the 7th of January, the grocer changed hands and was reopened under the ownership of training provider REDI.E in conjunction with Outback Stores.
As a Commonwealth-owned retail company that specialises in operating healthy lifestyle-focused food stores, REDI.E are very confident that their partnership with Outback Stores is just what the town needs.
REDI.E’s General Manager Peter Gibbs said taking ownership of the store was the first time the training provider had ever entered into such an agreement but is very much looking forward to what it will bring.
“This is absolutely what we needed to do. It’s to provide fresh produce at affordable prices to the local people there,” he said.
After experiencing the devastating effects that came with the Covid-19 outbreak in 2021, being able to constantly provide good healthy food to the remote indigenous town is essential.
Leading up to the opening of the store, members of the Wilcannia community, REDI.E and Outback Stores completed stage one of what they called “the super clean and rearrangement,” where they got the store ready for more stock items, bringing even cheaper prices to locals.
Win-win for everyone
Chair of the Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council, Michael Kennedy said a lot of community members were excited about the plans for the grocery.
Besides the potential employment opportunities, healthier food and cheaper prices, there could be other benefits for the town when this store is completely up and running.
“A lot of people do go to Broken Hill to do their shopping but there are still quite a few people in the community who can’t get across to Broken Hill to do their shopping for various reasons,” he said.
“If you can save that 100 bucks on fuel and get the same quality and close to the same price, then it’s a win-win situation”.
Work in Progress
While the store has made huge progress in the short time since receiving it’s new owners, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Michael Cooper, Programs Manager at REDI.E said, “in 6 months this will be what the community deserves… seeing the progress thus far in a week is great, more is to come”.
Being able to provide opportunities for a local community that is full of people wanting better for their young ones is what it’s all about, says Michael.
“There’s a lot to look forward to this year for us in Wilcannia so it’s a positive start to the year. Hopefully we can continue on with the positives,” says Michael Kennedy.
This initiative is funded/supported by the Australian Government.