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When Woolworths came to Scone

When Woolworths came to Scone

Here is an article submitted by Mandy, near Scone in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales

Before I get to Scone, let me tell you what happened in Muswellbrook - about 20 kilometres south.

Muswellbrook has had a Woolworths for ages, just near the main street and with a few shops around it. It was quite a pleasant shopping centre - and you still shopped in the main street too. So the shopping experience was really quite pleasant.

But then mining hit Muswellbrook big time, and a much, much larger one-stop Woolworths was built. Then came a large shopping complex, complete with a Big W and a Big everything else. Consequently, the main street is now DEAD. I never go there now unless I have to.

Now to Scone
3;. Scone had for years and years a small local supermarket called Shoeys. People would do their day-to-day stuff at Shoeys, and go to Muswellbrook for a big shop once a week or fortnight. Shoeys was in the main street, along with two butchers, a greengrocer and a bakery. There was a newsagent, a book shop, a hardware, a couple of pretty basic clothing shops - all the normal stuff you find in a working town. You just parked in the main street and were able to get to everything. You always bumped into someone you knew - shopping was quite a social outing!

Then BiLo bought Shoeys and it moved a bit further down the street. It was bigger than Shoeys and carried more stock, but the other food shops were still fine - they offered better product with better service and because everything was still in the main street, it was easy to buy from a variety of different shops.

The big change came when Woolworths came to town. Scone really didn"t need it, but Woolworths pushed ahead anyway. There was a lot of action in the community against Woolworths, mainly because there was already a good supermarket, but it still happened.

I think the people who did want Woolworths thought it would make their lives easier - you know, it would be easier to go to one place and do everything. I don"t think they realised what effect it would have on the rest of the town - they thought Woolworths would be there as a convenience, and the rest of the town would just stay the same - like having the best of both worlds. Which would have been great if that"s what had happened

Because Woolworths was there, when Coles took over BiLo they enlarged their supermarket to compete. Scone now has two large supermarkets for its relatively small size - in fact, it has more supermarket space per square metre per person than anywhere else in Australia!

Since Woolworths came - building away from the main street - apart from one butcher, there are no more food shops at all in the main street. It"s full of gift shops and hairdressers! Which isn"t much help if you want to shop for food but don"t want to shop at Woolworths. Which raises an interesting point - in promising more choice for customers, Woolworths have actually reduced choice! Because the local shops don"t exist any more.

Now other franchises are making their way into Scone. It has a Pizza Hut and a Subway and - shock horror - a new "megacourt" of McDonalds, KFC and several other fast food outlets.

It"s not a pretty town. Because once you let in one big shop - no matter what anyone promises - the others will slowly but surely follow.


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