WATTLE Range Mayor Des Noll and supermarket manager Dave Foster turned back the clock 50 years this week to reenact a red-letter day in Millicent’s commercial history.
It was on June 25, 1970 then Millicent Mayor Gladys Smith featured on the front page of The South Eastern Times congratulating owner Bob Foster on the opening of the new $1m Foster’s Foodland supermarket in Kentish Place.
The Foster retail dynasty started in his home town of Rendelsham in the mid-1940s and the family later expanded to premises in George Street in Millicent in the 1960s which is now occupied by IN2Trophies.
As well as posing for a photograph to mark half a century on the one site, Mr Noll heaped praise on the supermarket and its local proprietors over three generations.
Mr Noll said the generosity of the Foster family was always to the fore such as the aftermath of the tragic Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983.
“Foster’s Foodland is a commercial backbone of our community and a positive force,” Mr Noll said.
“The Fosters are committed and loyal to our community as seen by their many sponsorships of local groups.
“They are continuously upgrading the premises and this stimulates the economy.”
This was a reference to the current installation of automatic doors by local firms.
Mr Noll said the employees of the supermarket always provided friendly service.
“Shopping at Foster’s Foodland is a positive experience.
“It is not just a place to shop, it is a place for people to gather.
“When my daughter Vicki finished at Millicent High School, she worked here at Foster’s Foodland.
“That experience helped her get a job at the Foodland supermarket at Brighton in Adelaide.
“The Fosters also stock a range of local produce such as flowers, vegetables, meat and even sauce.”
Warm congratulations for 50 years of retailing at the one site has also come from Millicent Business Community Association chairman Lee Morgan.
“As a multiple winner of our Outstanding Business Awards over the last 10 years, the same words keep coming up about Fosters like loyalty, outstanding customer service, generosity to the community, doing that bit extra and unassuming,” Mr Morgan said.
“The Foster family has been this from when Bob Foster had his business in Rendelsham and then George Street and for the last 50 years in Kentish Place.
“These strong attributes of a business are few and far between in this crazy world that we currently live in.
“Millicent is blessed with many great businesses and the MBCA is highly appreciative that Fosters Foodland through the times of Bob, then Brian and now David continue to set the benchmark for commercial organisations with its customer service and support for community organisations.
“I do not think people realise the extent of support the Fosters family has provided and still gives to the community.
“Its support following the Ash Wednesday bushfires when it opened its doors and gave away groceries to affected landholders is legendary, but also I know that Fosters has provided support to local charities who benefit the disadvantaged and they continue to support without any hint of seeking kudos.
“I also know they are supportive of their staff and their needs and are a magnificent employer.
“All in all, the Fosters family are a lovely business and their kindness and service has made Millicent proud for 50 years and I have no doubt their values will continue and this has a ripple affect within the community.”
Dave Foster has been in the manager’s sole since 2019 following the retirement of his father Brian and estimates the store has employed many hundreds of workers in more than seven decades of trading at Rendelsham and Millicent.
“For many, their very first job has been at Foster’s Foodland,” Mr Foster said.
“At present, we have 35 full-time and part-time employees.
“I think we have lasted over 50 years in business because we have always focused on the community.
“We will continue to aim for consistency and reliability.
“We intend to keep on doing what we have been doing.”
Footnote: The nearby Millicent Woolworths supermarket in Davenport Street marks the 50th anniversary of its opening in the coming months.