Mounting costs force shop closure

Matthew WoodleyMidwest Times
Former Tarcoola X-Press IGA owner, Samantha Prunster, in front of the now-closed doors with daughter Grace, 12.
Camera IconFormer Tarcoola X-Press IGA owner, Samantha Prunster, in front of the now-closed doors with daughter Grace, 12. Credit: Matthew Woodley

After more than three decades of being open 365 days a year, Tarcoola X-Press IGA has shut its doors, possibly for the last time.

Poor sales and a lack of revenue forced the small independent grocer into administration on November 30 last year, despite former shop owner Samantha Prunster doing everything she could to keep the business afloat.

Ms Prunster, who had owned the shop for more than 10 years, said she was heartbroken, but left with no other option.

“We began to go backwards — we were losing about $2000 a day,” she said.

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“I cut back my staff, was only ordering from the shelf when everything got down to just one, I changed my meat supplier, shut down the deli, but nothing worked.

“It was as if half of Tarcoola just got up and moved.”

Initially, Ms Prunster had wanted to keep the store open until a buyer could be found, but was faced with the prospect of going thousands of dollars deeper into debt had she not followed the instructions of her administrators.

The announcement on their Facebook page prompted an outpouring of sadness from loyal customers, which Ms Prunster said had left her with mixed emotions.

“It was a hard thing for me to look at because I’m very much a people pleaser,” she said.

“I’m disappointed because I’ve let so many people down, but I’m really proud that our store managed to touch so many people (as well).”

Nineteen businesses closed their doors in Geraldton last year, but Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Glen Whistler-Carr said some were unavoidable.

“Sometimes circumstances dictate it, but to lose any business in a regional area is always a blow to the mindset of the local inhabitants,” he said.

“Many have retracted back to Perth bases, there have been a number of takeovers and mergers … (and) there have been some that have closed because of financial constraint ...

we need to constantly evaluate and embrace change, for it is the only constant that we have.”

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