The new Summerhill Shopping Centre with its Coles and Kmart and Aldi and Brumby’s Bakery, which opened yesterday, is really going to bring the Reservoir/Kingsbury area into the realm of ‘UPPER CLASS’. I’m going to show you how next week.
But before that I thought we could reminisce about the old Coles shutting down and how it left such a whole in the hearts of so many (and without the use of street knives).
*Originally published 15 Feb 2014
If there is such a thing as the sadness blimp (and I’m well aware of the sceptics’ opinion on that) it’s been hovering over me these past weeks and shadowing my every waking minute, ever since I heard that Kingsbury Coles Supermarket was closing down.
For several years Kingsbury Coles Supermarket has been a weekly refuge for me and my family – a friend – offering food when we were hungry (or just wanting to eat out of boredom), cleaning products when we were at our dirtiest, warmth during the winter months and a refreshing burst of cool in summer.
She was there when I was hung-over to give me Panadol and Coke Zero. When my stomach was upset she shone a light above the tightly packaged bottles of Yakult and whispered, ‘Here you go big boy’. And when I was feeling a little saucy she winked me over to a plainly labelled personal lubricant and suggested I obscure it at the checkout by putting it behind an eight pack of Diet Ginger Beer.
She saw my family grow from one child to four but welcomed us in every time, turned a blind eye when one of them knocked a line of products off the shelves and even consoled me when I was crying my eyes out – by playing classic 80’s hits like True by Spandau Ballet, and Who’s That Girl? by Madonna – when one of the boys was screaming FUCKEN in a mindless tantrum.
But most of all it was the people who worked there. There was the always happy and chatty Selma who walked through the reserve behind our house on her way to work and once saw me standing on the porch holding a street lamp. Glenise had become a dear friend and always spent an extra few minutes scanning items so we could catch up on engaging world events like the trouble her daughter was having with the floorboards in her new house. Olympia was always smiling, and such a joy, lighting the place up like a human torch with her flaming hair. There was nothing Maria wouldn’t do. And Debbie had become so familiar to Maki and Tyson in the past year that they went crazy just to see her.
There were other regular shoppers there as well. Some who had been going to Kingsbury Coles a lot longer then me. In particular there was Doug and Doug’s son who knew everyone there. And I mustn’t forget to mention the three old ladies. They were as common a sight as Coles’ slashed prices.
So as we headed on over to the barbeque that Coles were putting on to mark the closure of the legendary Kingsbury branch I was already mourning, in my own way, but determined to free myself of the sadness blimp, to celebrate the past seven years, and to shine on with the great people and the wonderful memories. What follows is a pictorial account of my doing that very thing.
The party was already kicking when me Lewis, Tyson and Maki got there. That’s Tyson and Maki dancing dead centre of the picture (just to the left of Doug’s son) and that’s because Coles had organised for a DJ to be there. The DJ’s name was Matt and he was great although he played very poor songs. There was a huge bowl of lollies on the food table and lots of sugary soft drink and even a massive mud cake. Usually I’d limit the kids junk food intake but because this was a special occasion and I was worried about one of them yelling FUCKEN I decided to let them eat as much of whatever they wanted.
More frivolity. The party was really starting to step up a gear at this point. In fact this was probably when it reached its most fever-pitched.
The Coles worker collecting the empty meat trays for refilling is unknown to me and my guess is that she’s one of the fulltime party organisers that big corporations hire these days. There were several others there just like her who seemed a little unsure, a tad out of place, and judging by that woman’s hairstyle I’d guess they were more used to the hip, inner city crowd. You can see another one of them in the next picture. She’s kind of backing away from the food table, looking tense, holding up a knife.
The lovely lady in pink just up and grabbed my boys, encouraged them over to the lollies and gave them a whole plastic cup of mixed lollies each. And when she heard Archie was home sick she made him a cup of lollies as well. The boys had already eaten about five packs of Snakes and I was about to say, oh no that’s too much, but then I just shrugged and let it go. If nothing else the boys are learning a very valuable lesson – a stranger offering you lollies is only a stranger until you get to know them.
Look at the size of that cup!
Here you can see, by looking into Tyson’s dulled eyeballs, that the sugar is already starting to affect his brainwaves. (And he says that it doesn’t affect him! Yeah right!)
That’s employee Debbie and when Maki saw her he ran straight up and hugged her. She was very moved. About a minute later I felt a lull in the mood of the party and was about to start this chant, Dance And Sing Get Up And Do Your Thing, when Debbie grabbed me by the elbow and said, ‘I think he’s choking on a Snake’ which was lucky because he was choking on a Snake. I grabbed one end of the Snake and pulled the other end out of his throat and then I got them to pose for this photo as a way of saying thanks to Debbie.
That’s Matt the DJ. I made another attempt to lift the crowd by knocking him out of the way to play some Madonna or some Rick Astley. But he got me out of there right quick. Then he played some Billy Ray Cyrus, which I’m pretty sure was a way to get back at me. Strangely, a lot of the party goers loved it and started swaying back and forth like underwater reeds.
We went inside for a while but it felt so odd being in there with the shelves so empty and all the people in there were very sad. I felt sad as well. The boys and I have waved and danced in front of that surveillance TV so many times. I asked for the video cassettes so we could watch it back home but they made out as if they didn’t have them. I suspect they’re being used in some crime investigation.
I’m happy with this pic even though it’s blurry because it captured the raw energy of the party. At times it got very very emotional.
I turn my back for one minute and find Lewis drinking a can of Fanta, Maki still diving into what appears to be a topped-up cup of lollies, and Tyson handing over his last piece of mud cake to a little girl who was looking at them like they were a mega-rich, mega-famous boy band and my first fearful thought was that yeah, he’ll give her a taste of junk food for free this first time, sure, just to get her hooked, but when she comes back for more he’ll be wanting cash.
That’s the three old ladies. Where will they go now?
This is a great pic of regular fellow Cole’s shopper Doug’s son, employees Katrina and Glenise and Doug’s son’s Dad Doug.
This is another great pic. Apart from Maki, we decided to set this photo up in two rows going from the smallest to the tallest. (Just kidding, Debbie isn’t really that short.) Check out the freaked-out eyes of my confectionarily intoxicated kids! They’re looking at the photographer but seeing fairies with robot heads or something. You try taking that cup of lollies off Maki without him saying fucken though!
I’ve put so many dockets in there over the years.
Finally the party was coming to an end and it was just me and the boys and a hundful of others hangin around. I organised this photo as a way of signifying my gratitude to this store and to my fellow shopper mates, but mostly the staff at Kingsbury Coles who have been a part of our life for the past seven years. I’m going to frame it and hold on to it for a year because… guess what? A new Coles is being built in this very spot, along with a strip of shops including Cafes, Bakeries and maybe even a $2 Shop! I’m going to give each of the employees a copy of this picture when the new store opens next February because I will always remember my first Kingsbury Coles and how, for several special years, she gave me everything my family needed and more. Seeya Kingsbury Coles! (sniff)
No, you hang up!
In an attempt to prove that I really do monitor my kids junk food intake I got them to pose in front of Coles’ Health Food section. Although, somehow Tyson had managed to grab a bag of chocolate money on the way there and to get Lewis to smile I had to promise him I’d by him a box of breakfast cereal called Tropico’s which looked almost like Fruit Loops to me but they were in the Health Food section so they must be okay. If you scroll back up to pic ten you’ll see he can hardly wait to get at them.