The imminent closure of Big W is a major inconvenience for Griffith residents. But for those in the surrounding towns, it’s life changing.
Barb McIntyre, 75, of Goolgowi, has looked after her two grandchildren (aged 10 and 11) since their mother died last year.
Big W Griffith is her port of call for the kids essentials – “socks, jocks and everything else”.
Unable to drive, Mrs McIntyre relies on friends to take her to Griffith, or gets the bus from Hillston.
“I think it stinks… I don’t know what I’m going to do”.
From April 15, Mrs McIntyre would need to travel three hours from home to get to her closest Big W, in Wagga.
Hay residents face the same dilemma, now facing a two hour plus drive (and crossing a state border) to get to their closest store.
“Big W will be a huge loss. Echuca [Victoria] will now be the closest,” Hay stalwart Kerry Aldred said.
Leeton residents will have a 40 minute drive to Griffith Big W turn into more than double the trip to get to Wagga.
“[Getting Big W to Leeton] is definitely something we will be looking at,” he said.
“I’ll be chatting with council’s economic development co-ordinator (Monica Armanini) about what we can be doing to attract them here.
“I know there are a few of our councillors like Cr Nardi, Reneker and Smith who are very interested in building on our economy here.
There is speculation Kmart might take Big W’s place in Griffith, but nothing is confirmed.
Griffith City Council says it has no development application from the retail giant, but Kmart did hint at future Griffith plans in a statement to The Area News.
“At this time we have no firm announcements, however if this changes we will advise the community with a formal announcement.”
Mrs McIntyre doesn’t see Kmart as a good alternative.
“Kmart just doesn’t have the range or the quality of Big W”.
Samantha Tyrrell, 31, agrees.
“I prefer Big W. While their products aren’t as cheap as Kmart, they are better quality… I’d rather pay $7 for something in Big W that’s going to last, rather than $3 at Kmart knowing I have to replace it.
Ms Tyrrell has been shopping at Big W for 16 years, and thinks the closure is devastating news for the town.
A poll by The Area News shows most respondents, however, do like the alternative. Some 72 per cent say they prefer Kmart to Big W.
Big W’s Griffith closure comes after news the chain suffered a $150 million loss nationwide in the 2016-17 financial year.