Sponsorship requires loyalty

Big grocery stores have to step up for locals         14 July 2006

There is anecdotal community evidence that Woolworths and Coles aren’t big donors to local people’s fundraising efforts yet the IGA stores can be a soft touch.

It reminds me of a mate of mine, Kim Loxton, a larrikin builder-developer from the Goldfields, who created the very modern Hannan’s Boulevard shopping centre in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

HANNANS: SYNONYMOUS WITH KALGOORLIE

One of the major grocers was at the Boulevard when I was last in Kal but Kim started off running the shop himself as an independent. He had previous experience at it and Coles and Woolies had struck too tough a bargain to come on board.

Location, location, location works everywhere and, despite Hannan’s Boulevard being very exposed on a main street next to the upmarket suburb of Hannans, the business really struggled.

I was living in Kalgoorlie-Boulder at the time and could not believe the residents’ shopping habits compared with my experiences in Perth.

The punters wouldn’t drive 5km to a brand new supermarket and shopping complex with fountains and the like because their habits were ingrained.

Driving 5km in a country town was apparently a big deal and they stayed away in droves, preferring Coles and Woolworths in the heart of Kalgoorlie.

Not so one couple who came to Kim and told him of the plight of their junior football club which couldn’t afford footy jumpers for the kids and the season started next week. They said they had approached the big companies and got nowhere.

Kim reached into the till, pulled out $500 and gave it to them.

The footy jumpers were bought but two days later, while driving through the main streets of Kalgoorlie, Kim saw the couple again, each wheeling a trolley full of groceries across the main street.

There was no suggestion they had spent the donation on groceries, just that they had done their major weekly shop at Coles – a store which would not give them a zack towards their football club.

The couple had already admitted they couldn’t draw a cracker of sponsorship or donation from Coles or Woolworths so they went to the local man and his local shop. He bunged them a monkey.

What was their silent shopping response? ‘Thanks, but it’s a penny cheaper on a can of tuna if I get it at Coles.

One day, this will come home to roost, especially in country towns where the amount of sponsorship for sport is finite and if it hasn’t spread already to the suburbs, it surely will.

Come on Coles and Woolworths. Allow some budget for suburban stores to help out in the neighbourhoods that support them.

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