SUPERMARKET price wars are driving general stores out of business with small towns increasingly doing without their local grocers.
A survey by The Courier reveals that towns including Lal Lal, Mt Egerton and Yendon no longer have what were once the hub of small communities.
Blackwood Merchant owners Denis Lees and Donna Shannon took over the town’s only general store in 2006.
But the duo, who now operate a cafe providore in Blackwood, say selling the daily essentials was not enough despite being open seven-days-a-week, 10-hours-a-day.
“We ran the business as a general store until 2010,” Mr Lees said.
“Because of supermarket shopping and the one stop shopping people don’t buy general groceries from the local shops.
“We sold more milk making coffees.”
Former lessee of the Blackwood Cobb and Co tea room, Lee Appleby, who stepped in to sell groceries for a while, also closed doors earlier this year after nearly two years.
It is now an Indian restaurant.
Robert Scott, who ran Mt Egerton’s general store for seven years, said the business was simply not viable.
They shut shop two years ago.
“You can’t run on no profit,” Mr Scott said.
“Once the supermarket opened in Ballan (that was the end of us).”
Mr Scott said the store used to be the centre of the town.
“The general store was the hub,” he said.
“People used to put up notices in the window.
“The communication ... and the sense of community is not there.”
Yendon general store’s owner Betty Anderson closed doors 10-years-ago after working from 7am till 9pm for seven-days-a-week.
“You just can’t compete,” Ms Anderson said.
“We closed before we went under.”
Gordon General Store owner Jan and John Spiteri consider themselves lucky to have a thriving business. Ms Spiteri said it was only hot food and the community support that had kept them going.
“We are lucky,” Ms Spiteri said.
“There is a bit of (construction) work going around that has brought extra people into town.
“We do fish and chips, hamburgers, souvlaki ... it is very hard work but if you are not opened from early morning until night it is not good for the town.”