The Shire of Perenjori’s plan for a new supermarket has plenty of hurdles to overcome before it becomes a reality.
The abrupt 2018 closure of the town’s Ezyway supermarket was described by Shire CEO Mario Romeo like a scene from a disaster movie.
“You’d look in the shop window and it was like an alarm went off. There was still product on the shelves, still stuff on the counter, like everyone just dropped and ran. It was really bizarre,” he said.
Taken into receivership by Westpac, the Shire put in a bid for the building in late 2020, which was rejected. Months later the building was heavily damaged by cyclone Seroja, leaving it uninhabitable.
“It was a danger to the community. It was falling apart, and had asbestos,” Mr Romeo said.
A demolition order was imposed and the Fowler Street block now sits empty, meaning the Shire will have to rebuild from scratch if the plan goes ahead — the cost of which is still being calculated.
The plan is based loosely on a solution to a similar situation in Bruce Rock in March 2020. The Wheatbelt town’s only supermarket burned down, leaving residents with a 100km round trip to Merredin.
The Shire of Bruce Rock worked with other local businesses to set up a temporary shop just six days after the fire, trucking in supplies from Perth.
Now, three years on, Perenjori locals rely on the roadhouse, which stocks a small amount of supplies, or are forced to make an 84km round trip to Morawa for groceries.
It has brought opportunity for local business Blue Hill Couriers, which delivers groceries from Geraldton. The Shire’s plan is still in its infancy. An environmental assessment needs to be completed before the council can offer a price.
Mr Romeo is in the process of drawing up a business plan, and an interested supermarket operator still needs to be found.
“What would be fantastic is if someone was looking to start a supermarket in a country town,” he said.
“I think people would come back.”