When a town has outgrown its only supermarket, what do you do? The easy answer is to build a new one, but when construction is estimated to take eight or nine months and you need to vacate the current premises – what then? That was the dilemma faced by Steve Sellars, owner of the Creswick IGA Supermarket.
The answer came in the form of a “pop up” supermarket in the vacant British Hotel. Not the ideal solution, but one Steve says he had to make “I couldn’t leave the town without a supermarket and I couldn’t leave the staff without their jobs. We set up the hotel site as best we could and to be frank, it has been a nightmare, but I’ve been overwhelmed and somewhat humbled by the acceptance and support of the town and staff.”
People who live in cities may find it strange how those in small towns can take ownership of a new facility in the community. The interest in the new supermarket goes far beyond one of idle curiosity, especially as talk of a new store had been rife for several years, so as soon as work on the new site became evident, fascination on its progress was almost palpable.
A lot of thought and planning has gone into developing the new site, especially to reducing the environmental impact. Asked if the plans for being more energy efficient was a commercial consideration or if his heart was in sustainability, Steve laughed, saying “We’ve installed state-of-the-art CO2 refrigeration, which initially is more expensive, but is excellent for the environment giving us a 47% reduction in our carbon footprint. The heat reclaimed from the refrigeration will service the hot water and heating and we plan to install solar panels before Christmas. The new shopping trollies are made from recycled milk bottles – twice the price of standard steel trollies.” Steve went on to say; “We’ve also removed single use plastic bags, but offer a 20c biodegradable bag customers can purchase and reuse – we’ll donate money to local charities from the purchase of these bags. I personally don’t believe the Australian Government is doing enough, so it’s up to the rest of us.”
Asked how his stress levels have been, Steve answered; “Astronomical, but I couldn’t have asked for any more support from the locals and staff. The environment they have had to work and shop in has been extremely difficult, but they haven’t whinged – they just got on with it. The new location is spacious and warm and we can turn on the pie warmer at the same time as the microwave without blowing the whole shop!”
The Creswick Supermarket has always been a solid employer and the larger premises will open up more opportunities. Eight extra full-time workers and a ‘good supply’ of part-timers will join the team.
To honour the heritage of the town, the windows of the new premises are already decorated with scenes of its past. Steve said; “Creswick is a great town and deserves modern, efficient services with a supermarket providing a great range of products focusing on quality fresh food. Its been tough, but it’s coming together well and we’ll open on 8th August.”
“We just had to hang in there.”