Mingenew IGA shuts it doors over Christmas and New Year period
Regional WA’s crippling labour shortage has been laid bare in the small Mid West town of Mingenew, where its only supermarket temporarily closed this week because of a shortfall of qualified workers.
Mingenew IGA Xpress shut its doors on Monday for at least a couple of weeks, meaning local residents will have to travel more than 50km to Dongara or Three Springs for groceries and alcohol in the lead up to Christmas.
Store manager Adrian Scatena said two key staff members who run the shop were taking holidays until January 17, and he had not been able to find anyone to fill in while they were away.
He said three other workers had quit in the past couple of months and any potential replacements did not have the necessary experience to run a liquor and grocery store.
“In the past we have been able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and share staff from our other store in Dongara, but due to trade being exceptionally busy in Dongara we’ve been unable to loan staff,” he said.
Mr Scatena said he hoped to re-open the Mingenew IGA before January 17, but could not offer any guarantees while Dongara was pumping with tourists.
“How long that lasts, I’m not entirely certain,” he said.
“Pretty much every staff member on the books has a shift most days this week in Dongara.”
Measures are being put in place to keep supply lines flowing.
Mingenew residents can order groceries through an online “click and collect” system, while the Shire will run a community bus service transporting people to and from Dongara.
Mingenew Shire president Gary Cosgrove said the timing could not have been worse for his community in the lead up to Christmas.
“The Shire is extremely disappointed, as is the community,” he said.
“We are hoping it will just be a couple of weeks.”
Mr Cosgrove said attracting workers to remote towns like Mingenew was becoming increasingly difficult.
“It’s a general reflection of what is happening in regional Western Australia at the minute,” he said.
“We aren’t getting people to work out in the bush anymore.”
The Mingenew IGA has had a chequered history, with the store going into liquidation in 2016.
Mr Scatena said he took over running the grocery store as a good-will gesture but did not want to continue managing it forever.
“We have been trying to sell that business for quite a period of time,” he said.
“We never envisaged running it for the long term. We are five years further down the track than we thought we would be with that business.
“The plan was always to find someone locally-based to take it on.”
Mr Scatena said he had been invited to attend the Shire’s February council meeting to discuss the store’s future.
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