Bilbul community to lose general store as owners make heartbreaking decision to call it quits

END OF AN ERA: Brendon Marcanio stands behind the counter at the soon to close Bilbul Store, he and Chiara Armanini have had to call it quits after it was no longer a viable business to run. PHOTO: Hannah Higgins.

END OF AN ERA: Brendon Marcanio stands behind the counter at the soon to close Bilbul Store, he and Chiara Armanini have had to call it quits after it was no longer a viable business to run. PHOTO: Hannah Higgins.

It is Wednesday morning and Etla Busenollo has made her near daily trip to the Bilbul store and is standing by the counter, joking with store owner Brendon Marcanio as he whips her up a coffee to go.

It is a familiar scene from small country towns across Australia, but sadly as times change and years pass the friendly camaraderie of small town stores has come under threat.

It turns out Bilbul is no exception, with owners Mr Marcanio and Chiara Armanini confirming the local store would close its doors Friday, March 31, despite their trying to keep it going “with every cell in their bodies.”

The closure is a blow for the small Bilbul community, which lost its school only a few years ago, making the decision to call it quits a tough one for the duo.

“But you have to take your heart out of the decision and only use your head,” Ms Armanini said.

“We have had a lot of strong supporters who have stood by us, but for the store to continue there wasn’t enough local support, and we completely understand why that is.

“However, there does need to be a serious awareness of why these things happen though and people do need to understand why people like us can’t continue on.”

While there were a number of factors behind the decision to shut up shop the pair said in a time when smaller businesses are continually under threat from larger companies, it had increasingly become more difficult to remain competitive and stay afloat at the same time.

“Times have changed, and with the competition from big supermarkets we just can’t sell $2 milk here,” Mr Marcanio said.

“You did have to pay a bit more for the convenience of walking down the road.”

Despite the sad news, and the many 12 hour days, the pair said they will be leaving with many fond memories of their two year stints as local storekeepers.

“People come in here just for a five minute job and leave one-and-a-half hours later,” Mr Marcanio laughed, before adding that over the years many in the local community many had become like part of an extended family.

One such couple came easily to mind for Ms Armanini and Mr Marcanio who said local husband and wife John and Irene Bortolazzo had been two of their most stalwart supporters, doing their best to help save the business.

It is a loss Mr Bortolozzo has felt keenly, with the shop and post office not only dating back to 1935 and 1922 respectively but also the home of the best pizza in town.

“There is an old saying ‘you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it’,” he said on Tuesday.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop