Wodonga residents Snez Keljin and Bev Corker braved a brisk early morning on Wednesday to be the first customers inside the new Wodonga Place Woolworths
Ms Corker said she had keenly watched the progress of the $5 million development, at the corner of High Street and Elgin Boulevard, over the past 12 months.
“You watch it being built all the time and it was sad when the other store closed so I wanted to come,” she said.
Ms Corker and Snez Keljin lined up outside the store for almost an hour before the official 9am opening.
“It looks amazing, I’m hoping for more variety which I’ve heard it has with the bakery,” Mrs Keljin said.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, I think it’s definitely good for the region, it’s employing 45 new people in Wodonga.”
New store manager Brian Boxer said a lot of work had gone into the development, which was part of a $20 million Wodonga Place development.
In 1986, Mr Boxer was store manager of the former Wodonga Safeway and said the difference between the operations over the decades was astounding.
“It’s completely different, when I first came we didn’t even have any scanning,” he said.
“What we can offer customers has completely changed since the 1980s.
“We have full seafood, bakery and butcher shop departments and a wide range for customers.”
Mr Boxer said the store employed 145 people consisting of staff from the old Woolworths, the recently closed Safeway plaza store and 45 new positions.
Wodonga Plaza Safeway, which closed its doors for the last time on Tuesday was the final Safeway-branded store left in Australia. Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie said the store was a key new piece of the city’s urban fabric.
She said the developed boosted the region by creating new jobs and using Border contractors for 90 per cent of development work.
“Keeping the hundred of jobs and creating new ones will stimulate other parts of the Wodonga economy,” Cr Speedie said.
“For so long commercial draw has sat alongside our neighbours in Albury.”