(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Graeme Maher, who was the opening manager of Riverdale, said the opening on October 10, 1973 was significant as it housed the third in a new generation of Woolworths supermarkets with over 40,000 square feet of trading area.
"An amazing opening day followed with traffic out over the Ford Bridge and the store was for Woolworths a huge success and another reason also for out of town people to shop in Dubbo," Mr Maher told the Daily Liberal.
The only other two large-footprint Woolworths in Australia were located in the Sydney suburbs of Penrith and Campsie, and Dubbo was chosen because it was a growing hub.
Woolworths had already been established in Dubbo with a major variety store and a smaller supermarket next to the old post office.
Mr Maher said the Riverdale centre store was significant as it changed the way people shopped in the Dubbo region, as it offered not only groceries, but general merchandise including ladies and menswear and stationery.
"The store fronted onto Macquarie Street and was a marketplace-style of centre with speciality shops, coffee shops ... leading into the supermarket as part of the development," Mr Maher said.
"The centre also had a real bonus from a weather point-of-view, as it had undercover parking."
The store had a much bigger fruit and vegetables section than Dubbo residents had seen before, and lad a large butchery, frozen foods and dairy, and a variety section.
It was also unusual and modern as the shelves were restocked at night.
Mr Maher said people came from far and wide to shop in Dubbo, including from Cobar, Narromine and Gilgandra.
The store was such a success Woolworths hired a local marketing manager and there was entertainment playing in the Riverdale shopping centre.
"From a development point of view, it was the forerunner of the forerunner of the major centres they've got now, Dubbo Square and Orana Mall," Mr Maher said.
There were many more staff working in the store than there are today, because many jobs, including stock counting, have been replaced by machines.
Long-serving staff member Sarah Clark has been working at Woolworths Riverdale and Orana stores for the last 15 years.
The grocery team leader said COVID-19 changed the way people shopped - they are now shopping less frequently and buying more per visit.
"COVID had a huge impact for how people actually chose to plan their week - people were a lot more organised. They tend to do bigger shops now weekly as opposed to coming in twice a week," Ms Clark said.
"The cost of living, petrol in the farming side of it, they can't afford to come out often anymore. And click and collect is a big one - we do a lot of click and collect in our store."
A lot of the customer base at Riverdale are elderly customers, who do their shopping based on the specials of the week.
"When the rewards program came in, that was a big impact for the way they shop a lot more based on rewards and loyalties," Ms Clark said.
Other changes include self service registers.
"We still have the same customer base which is nice - you still get to see regular faces every day," Ms Clark said.
IN OTHER NEWS
One of those friendly faces is Dubbo resident Joy Stroud, who has been shopping at Riverdale for the entire 50 years.
She recalled Maxims Coffee Lounge out the front, which was "a terrific coffee lounge", as well as a gift and homewares jewellery shop at the front owned by Patsy Carolone, which were around in the seventies.
"Mrs Darcy had a children's ware shop in the middle of the complex and she used to have lovely children's clothing there," Ms Stroud said.
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app here. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.