Supermarket success: the personal touches that influenced chain’s sixth store

When Roz and Michael White first ventured into the world of groceries and supermarkets in 1993, little did they know they were embarking on a journey that would change the way locals shop.

There is not one element in each of the six stores that the couple has built that Roz has not personally been involved with – from the items stocked on the shelves, to sourcing the refrigeration and hand-selecting the suppliers, fittings and hardware, and employing the team that delivers on their promise of providing good old-fashioned customer service.

They personally oversee it all.

“Every element and every detail of our stores is intimately selected, and our Forest Glen store is no different,” Ms White said.

“Every aspect of the store has something that is very personal to us – from the dining table in Grace & Grace, named after Michael and my grandmothers that has seen many a White family dinner, to the butchery we have named Sonny’s that pays homage to my dad’s dog who lived with us for 18 months after dad passed away.

“Every element tells a story.”

Ms White said the inspiration for the latest store was found when researching the history of the site.

“The inspiration for our Forest Glen store comes from the original roadside stores that date back to the 1940s when the Gibbins family sold oranges and pineapples – and that is why we have a Gibbins Boulevard in our store, as it was Grandma Gibbins who was responsible for naming this suburb Forest Glen.”

In keeping with their commitment to showcasing and investing back in the region, not only do Roz and Michael support local producers (through their highly successful Locavore’s program), they also engage local contractors to provide many of the elements required in the fit-out of the store, including stainless steel benches and refrigeration systems.

“Supporting local is at the heart of everything we do and wherever possible, we support local,” Ms White said.

Queensland construction company Tomkins Commercial, which won the design and construct contract in November 2021, shares the Whites’ vision for supporting local business and community. Tomkins estimates about 90 per cent of subcontractors engaged during the project were based locally.

Tomkins’ Sunshine Coast construction manager Barry Lehmann said that over the past 12 months, workers had successfully navigated more than 61 days of rain, clocking 67,000 man-hours to successfully construct three mixed-use retail buildings as part of the Forest Glen Village Centre expansion.

“In the process, we have created more than 100 full-time jobs, whilst sourcing much of the materials used in construction from local suppliers,” he said.

“The end result is a project that has been built on the foundations of local collaboration and respect – something both Tomkins Commercial and the Sunshine Coast community are renowned for.”

Forest Glen Village Centre board chair Tony Riddle said the group was pleased to see work completed 12 months after the expansion began.

“I am delighted to see this project come to life and I have been buoyed by the public support we have been receiving,” Mr Riddle said.

Forest Glen store construction
Michael White, Barry Lehmann and Tony Riddle on site at the Forest Glen store construction.

“With destination shopping on the rise, I believe we have created a village that meets this brief perfectly and will cater to the needs of our growing population.

“It will be convenient for families and businesses and has the added benefit of over 200 car parks and I believe it will quickly become the village of choice for locals.”

In preparing to open the couple’s sixth White’s IGA, Ms White held a recruitment day and successfully found and employed 85 of the 95 staff who will work in what is set to become the flagship store.

The store will be officially opened on Wednesday, December 14, with an official ceremony hosted by Shane Jacobson.

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