Ritchies IGA celebrates
Sunday was a special day for Ritchies IGA Cobram, celebrating 15 years since opening.
One person who has seen the store grow and develop is Mandy Hawke, who has been store manager for 14 years.
She remembers when Ritchies decided to come to Cobram.
‘‘Originally when Ritchies first came to town, the gift shop and ANZ bank across the road were joined together and there was a supermarket called Rightway and Ritchies actually bought that store out and all the staff transferred over here and opened this building as IGA,’’ Ms Hawke said.
The 47 Bank St building has virtually always had supermarket franchises operating inside, including Woolworths and the now defunct Tuckerbag and Franklins supermarkets.
In a testament to the workplace culture at the store, staff members Jenny Hogan, Nicole Knight and Renee Jaensch have been at Cobram IGA the entire 15 years.
Mark Baldock Jaensch, Julie and Krishna Manswer have also given substantial service.
Ms Hawke was proud of the people who made up the fabric of the organisation and for the qualities they had contributed to the store’s reputation.
‘‘Even some of the casuals start here when they’re 15 and don’t leave until they go to university,’’ she said.
‘‘I remember when McDonald’s first opened I thought it was going to wipe out all our casual staff, but we never lost one, which said a lot for the environment we create here.’’
When asked what had kept her in the role for such an extended period, Ms Hawke said a couple of things stood out.
‘‘It’s probably just the interaction we get to have with customers each day and the community work that Ritchies is so passionate about through the Community Benefit Card,’’ she said.
‘‘Things like our annual family day and the Lions Club Christmas lunches for the farmers have been really enjoyable over the years. It’s funny; you sort of do a lot of community stuff but don’t take time.’’
Through its Community Benefit Card fund, the store has made an enormous contribution to a host of local community groups and organisations, including $118 397 to the Cobram hospital, $31 000 to Cobram Primary School, just under $30 000 to Cobram Fire Brigade, $27 000 to Cobram Secondary College and $27 000 to Cancer Council Cobram.
Ritchies also has a natural disaster fund, which has helped the local community in times of hardship such as the Koonoomoo tornado.
Ms Hawke said while it was fantastic the store had been able to give back so much, it would not have been possible without the public’s input.
‘‘We have to thank the entire community because without their support we wouldn’t still be here 15 years later,’’ she said.
Ritchies IGA will be celebrating its 15-year reunion at Cobram Barooga Golf Club on Saturday at 7.30 pm for any past or present staff. If interested in attending, contact Mandy Hawke at the store. it all in at the