If any readers have visited GMG Accounting's Swan Hill offices over the past few months or picked up the local paper anytime over the past couple of years, I'm sure you will be aware of a certain hardware chain putting up shop in Swan Hill.
The opportunities a store like Bunnings creates for local workers, local charities and community groups (through community partnerships and sausage sizzles) is not lost on me. The only qualm I hold with Swan Hill welcoming big business is that the lion's share of any store profit will likely find its way into a Wesfarmers shareholder's pocket to be spent in shops thousands of kilometres away.
Already serviced by five general hardware stores and a number of more specialised hardware stores Swan Hill is arguably well catered for in this area. It can also be said that because there is an assortment of these stores in town that no true monopoly exists and that there is already enough competition present to keep prices in check. Although I am yet to venture inside the new Swan Hill store, having spent countless hours browsing through a number of different Bunnings stores in Melbourne it's easy to see that they carry a wide range of different makes and models of hand and power tools. I've noticed that they never seem to carry the more prestigious and specialist brands, those that are more desirable to tradesman such as Milwaukee and Snap-on. This I'm hoping is where the local stores can excel and fill the gaps.
Casting the new Bunnings store in an optimistic light, Swan Hill will hopefully be able to welcome new non-local shoppers to town. Consumers that might not have otherwise had a reason to travel to Swan Hill for their house and hardware needs. This being the case the extra foot traffic will no doubt benefit the wider business community around town.
Anybody who can be as selectively forgetful as myself and thinks that Swan Hill is losing part of its soul just because one large retailer is moving in to town only has to look a little further South on Beveridge St to find a couple of chain stores that have been in town as long as I have been alive. The days of the small Roberts & Martin's SSW style supermarket have undoubtedly ended.
Maybe my sentimentality is misplaced, maybe local owner operator hardware stores won't suffer with the introduction of a Bunnings store. I certainly hope so. Time will tell.