Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation (KCAC) chief executive officer Corey McLennan says he is “really proud” to see the Koonibba General Store open for business.
The store opened to the community on Monday morning, with a number of customers grabbing items off the shelves once the doors opened.
Creation of the $850,000 store was five years in the making and Mr McLennan said the community was excited the big moment had finally arrived.
“We are really proud to finally have stock on the shelves, there is a lot of colour and it is a vibrant store,” he said.
“Everybody in the community has been excited and supportive of the store.
“We opened at nine and had about 50 people come through in the first hour or so.”
The store employs one manager, and is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday from 9am to 12pm.
Both are seen as a starting point, with Mr McLennan noting they were looking at increasing staffing numbers and would extend trading hours “if there is a demand”.
Funding for the store came from a number of sources, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund, Indigenous Business Australia, as well as a considerable contribution from the Koonibba community.
The Mai Wiru Regional Stores Council Aboriginal Corporation – which operates and supports five supermarkets on the APY Lands plus other remote Indigenous community stores – was also instrumental in the store fit-out and its operations.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey visited the store during Mr Scullion’s recent West Coast trip, and were impressed with the store could do for the community.
“I congratulate the Koonibba community and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation for building a community store here,” Mr Scullion said.
“This investment will support an efficient and commercially-viable store which provides a greater range of healthy food options that will make a real difference for people’s health with the store putting in place strategies to target a reduction in sugary products and sell healthier options at a cheaper price.”
Mr Ramsey said the store was a “prime example of the [government] backing Indigenous business in their own communities and creating opportunities for economic development”.
He added there would be further funding of $25,000 for landscaping around the store.
“KCAC have developed a strong and effective business model for the store and have ongoing project management support to maintain its ongoing viability and sustainability,” he said.
Mr McLennan said the Koonibba community would be the biggest benefactor from the store being opened.
“There is less travel time to go into Ceduna for shopping, plus the economic benefits – it is community owned, and profits go back into the community,” he said.
“It is 42 years since the last general store and we are happy with the end product.”