HUNDREDS of people, armed with trolleys and baskets, spread through the new Coles Southgate shopping centre like wildfire when it opened its doors at 9am yesterday.
After 12 months of demolition, redevelopment and a number of false starts in the lead-up to redevelopment, the retail landscape in South Tamworth changed forever yesterday.
The general consensus from shoppers was the new, much larger $12.5 million Coles Southgate complex was exactly what they’d been waiting for.
Among the eager shoppers was Werris Creek woman Judith Carter.
Mrs Carter travelled up especially for the opening.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for for the past 12 months,” she said.
“I travel to Tamworth to shop at Coles because I like it and this store is just beautiful.”
Mrs Carter was armed with a catalogue she’d already circled so she “didn’t get lost” and overwhelmed with anticipation.
Another keen customer was John Austin.
Mr Austin lives around the corner from the complex.
He said he’d been waiting “a long time” for the opening.
“We’ve been shopping at Northgate since Bi-Lo closed but it’s so much easier to just wander down the street when you need something,” he said.
“It’s great to have it back and by the looks of it, they’ve made a big effort to make it a bigger and
better store than the others.”
Store manager Mel Smith-Marshall said she was delighted with the opening.
“We anticipated there would be a lot of people turn out because we had been talking to so many members of the community but we’re excited it’s finally here and so many people are interested,” she said.
Mrs Smith-Marshall said the success of the opening and the way it looked was due to countless hours of hard work from the team of more than 100 staff employed in the new supermarket.
“They have worked really hard,” she said.
Yesterday’s opening effectively marked the start of five days of opening celebrations.
Children from South Tamworth Public School sang, the Gomeroi dancers performed, there was a cake cutting and a bright red ribbon snipped in celebration before customers entered the store.
Celebrations will continue with a number of specials this week and a family fun day tomorrow.
While the post office has re-opened for trade in the complex, it is anticipated the other specialty stores including Mick’s Meathouse, Black and White
Pepper Cafe and the Southgate Family Pharmacy will not open until later this month or early next.