It was the end of a remarkable era for the Wodonga retail sector when the late David Mann and his family sold-up.
That move, some 11 years ago, brought to an end an 85-year stretch for the business, which was started by Mr Mann’s own grandfather under the name Mann’s Produce.
Mann Wodonga went on to become a mainstay of the Wodonga business community. Indeed, it was a place where Mr Mann began working himself full-time way back in 1945.
But the vision that created such a successful business was also in play for the Mann family when the possibility of selling came up with an opportunity via the Bunnings chain.
The Mann name though and what it represents to the evolution of an ever-growing community was never going to be lost. That became even more apparent a few years ago when the first plans were revealed for Mann Central, on a prime central Wodonga site made possible with the relocation of the railway line to the city’s immediate north.
A few false starts, largely revisions of the size of the centre, were quickly forgotten about and the promise of a new shopping site commensurate with a thriving regional city began to be seen.
Coinciding with work on the Wodonga Place centre across the road, a start was finally made to Mann Central.
It was certainly a significant milestone for Wodonga then on Wednesday with the official opening of Mann Central, which has both a Coles and Kmart.
While Wodonga Council has been a key supporter in helping the project’s developers bring it all to fruition, when all is said and done it all comes down to whether the punters are in favour. And they were, as shown by the large crowds lining up to be first through the doors.
Several shoppers spoke to The Border Mail about just how impressed they were with what had been achieved. As Rachel Jacob pointed out, it’s a good start to keeping the consumer spend in Wodonga: “I always go to Kmart in Albury and now I don’t have to travel I can do it all here.”
It is extremely heartening to see how the development has clearly generated even greater confidence in Wodonga. That is evidenced by comments from centre manager Guy Wynn, who noted how six of the nine specialty stores already had confirmed future tenants. This, of course, bodes well for the city’s continuing prosperity.