SPAR Maclean's Nicole Makepeace with a customer in store.
SPAR Maclean's Nicole Makepeace with a customer in store.

Maclean’s SPAR finds the positive moving forward

FOR well-known Maclean business owner Bob Little, the past six months of business have been full on uncertainty.

Faced with a major, national competitor in Ritchies IGA coming into town, he admits it could’ve been a complete disaster for his business.

And now, facing the reality of business in the world with coronavirus effecting everything around, he said he can even take a positive out of all the possible negatives.

“If there’s one positive we could take out of it, I guess we could say that without them to take on the load, we would be totally devastated. I don’t know how we’d take the demand,” he said.

“That’s the reality of the situation.”

Mr Little said the supermarket has been extremely busy with customers coming for supplies, many uncertain on how possible quarantine measures will affect them.

However, he was disappointed that it was not just locals taking advantage of his decent stock levels.

“We seem to be getting a lot of customers that are coming from outside the Clarence Valley area,” he said. “They are coming into town, and I think people believe going to the smaller stores will allow them to find stock.

“That’s a bit annoying for me, as I’m a firm believer in looking after the people who look after us, our loyal and local customers. It’s making it very difficult.”

Otherwise Mr Little said that the store was travelling well on stock, with difficulty in obtaining lines such as toilet paper, flour, pasta and hand sanitiser like many other supermarkets.

Mr Little said that he believed they were the only supermarket in the area that home delivered for free, something they had been doing for the past 40 years.

However, he warned that an increased demand on the service may force him to limit the operation.

“At the moment it’s getting hit very hard, we’re getting a lot of people who are asking for deliveries, and we may have to limit it to our loyal customers otherwise we won’t be able to handle it,” he said.

“We have to be very careful. Unfortunately if it gets oversubscribed we won’t be able to handle and it’s our regular customers who lose out.

“However, we’ll always help out people where we can, and if there’s extenuating circumstances people can contact us and we’ll help them out.”

Mr Little said an ongoing concern was protecting his staff from possible infection, and had taken preventive measures.

“We rely very heavily on the community on doing the right thing and keeping their distance from the staff, because it’s very difficult with so many people in the store,” he said.

“I’ve just ordered sneeze screens for our checkout operators to protect that area.

“We’d also like as many people as they can to use EFTPOS, because money is the money commodity that everyone is touching.”

Mr Little said that over the past six months, and through the recent pandemic, he was humbled by the level of support that had been shown by the local community.

“Through it all, we’ve managed to maintain some really good loyal customers in the store, and I am truly humbled by it.”



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