AN INDEPENDENT grocer will open its doors in Daylesford next year.
The store, to be called Blake Family Grocers, is being developed by the owner of Maxi Foods Castlemaine and Ballarat, Brendan Blake.
The grocer will stock a range of locally produced and internationally sourced fine grocery items such as fresh produce, cheeses from around the world, cured meats and freshly baked breads. It will also include a cafe.
Designed to be a gourmet delicatessen style store, it will also range products for everyday use. However, it is unlikely to range other household items such as cleaning products.
Mr Blake signed a lease to operate the business at 1 Howe Street, Daylesford - just outside of the main shopping precinct - earlier this year. He obtained a planning permit to undertake works at the site shortly afterwards.
Mr Blake obtained a planning permit shortly afterwards.
He told The Courier the concept for the store had been designed to be "visually spectacular".
"Daylesford is an exceptional town in regards to the clientele," he said. "It has been designed to attract both Daylesford locals and also to support the large range of tourists that come through the town, particularly on weekends."
A different concept to his two bigger format stores, Mr Blake said the idea behind the store was to create "something special".
"It deserves its own identity. If it is a concept that is appreciated by customers then there is a likelihood it can be rolled out to other sites," he said.
Driving between Castlemaine and Ballarat every day for 19 years, he has long wished to find an appropriate site to open a store in the town, believing the Daylesford community needs another grocery store option.
Mr Blake reiterated the importance of independent stores in the face of the growth of chain supermarkets.
He said bigger supermarkets were moving towards replacing brands with their own range, meaning local producers weren't supported.
"Chain supermarkets are all moving down the same path in wanting to produce their own brands. Increasingly the range of products is diminishing and home brands are prolific.
"But people want brands. They have confidence in brands - they don't want a product produced by an unknown source because they like to know where their food is coming from."
He said his stores supported and ranged Australian brands like Rosella and Illawarra Sourdough but also brought in sought after products such as Spanish anchovies.
There are few independent retailers left these days so it is important that independents not only remain strong but that they simply exist.Brendan Blake
"As they disappear the chains take over and the result is that people are offered foods they don't want to buy, but have to."
The store will employ around 15 people in full time, part time and casual roles.
"I cannot wait for it to open. The Daylesford store will be spectacular," Mr Blake said.
Daylesford has a small Coles store but there has not been a second supermarket since the town's IGA closed its doors due to structural issues in late 2014.
A planning permit for a second supermarket on Central Springs Road was approved earlier this year.
There is also another small independent grocer store called Tonna's Fruit and Vegetables.
The building Blake Family Grocers will operate out of requires a complete reconstruction to make it tenantable. While there are still significant structural and design hurdles to overcome before the business opens, Mr Blake is excited for it to open in 2020.
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