HUNDREDS of keen shoppers pushed trolleys of vibrant fresh produce across the shiny new floors of Carter’s Mount Gambier Foodland for the first time yesterday.
Mount Gambier Central was awash with colour and bustling with activity as the city’s newest supermarket celebrated its first day of operation.
Speaking to The Border Watch during yesterday’s grand opening, owner Tim Carter said he was no stranger to the Foodland franchise, with Carter’s Retail operating Foodland stores in Robe, Naracoorte and Peterborough and an IGA supermarket in Coober Pedy.
“My daughter Emma manages Robe Foodland – we have operated the Robe supermarket for around 5 years and we have been operating the Naracoorte Foodland for 12 years,” Mr Carter told The Border Watch.
Mr Carter revealed Mount Gambier’s newest supermarket would eventually employ more than 70 people.
“Depending on how we go with juniors and checkout staff we will employ in the vicinity of up to 70 to 75 locals,” he said.
“I remember applying for jobs when I was young and how disheartening it was when you never heard back from employers, so I always said if I ever owned a business I would respond to every job application I ever received, but we have had over 1000 people apply for jobs.
“It has been overwhelming – I know young people wait for that letter or phone call, so to the people who have applied, thank you for applying and don’t give up, keep coming back.”
Mr Carter said “local knowledge” and local re-investment would set the family-owned supermarket apart from its competition.
“We are very much a family business and there is that availability where customers can talk to the owners,” he said.
“We know our local products and we can stock smaller quantities and deal directly with suppliers.
“If a customer approaches us with any issue we don’t need to seek authority from boards interstate to address that issue.
“On top of that we invest straight back into the town and support local suppliers.”
Mr Carter thanked local contractors for their efforts during a whirlwind seven months of construction.
“We were so happy with local tradespeople and we really appreciate their hard work,” he said.
“They have been fantastic.”
Mr Carter said he was “not at all” threatened by the looming arrival of discount supermarket giant ALDI.
“Foodland and ALDI are totally different – we are focused on service and local products,” Mr Carter said.
“Aldi will employ around 20 people and sell bulk items, but I think it’s good to have choice.
“If you’re going to have competition it’s better having it in your own town, because it’s always better to have people shopping locally instead of heading elsewhere to do their groceries.”