Ritchies IGA cel­e­brates

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

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

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