WHEN Wodonga baker Clare Doolan closed her shop in March amid the coronavirus crisis, an East Albury supermarket came to the rescue.
The founder of Miss Naked Cakes said East Albury IGA was only too willing to stock her cupcakes.
"They were our lifeline, 100 per cent," Ms Doolan said.
"When we closed on the 23rd of March for our last trading day, they kept us going in the background.
"We even had to hire another staff member before we reopened after the lockdown."
East Albury IGA gained 30 new suppliers from throughout the border and North East since March.
Among them were bakers, restaurateurs and producers who lost their traditional markets under tighter restrictions and the border closure.
East Albury IGA co-owner Genevieve Connell said they started reaching out to suppliers during the national lockdown.
Mrs Connell said the Local Legends display continued to swell each week since the border closure in July.
She said some lines were introduced into their other stores at Springdale Heights, Jindera and Lockhart.
"We noticed our customers who were not able to go out on the town to spend $100 would be happy to treat themselves when they did the grocery shopping," she said.
"It wasn't always spending on themselves though, sometimes it was buying something special for family or friends as a way to keep in touch with them."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Now offering more than 100 brands from the Border and North East, Mrs Connell said shoppers became more discerning about buying Australian-made products during the COVID-19 crisis.
Mrs Connell said regional produce took any guesswork out of its origins.
"There's no question whatsoever about whether it's Australian-made; it's local and you know you're helping a small producer and their young family," Mrs Connell said.
"Customers were really wanting to support local producers, similar to the trend after the summer bushfires.
"We picked up new Alpine and Milawa brands, who had lost all of their January tourism and seemed to be the hardest hit."
Mrs Connell said they would retain the Local Legends offerings in future despite the relative low margin.
"We're going to make as little as we can out of this because the supplier needs to win and the customer needs to win," she said.
Ms Doolan said the flow-on effect of supplying the East Albury IGA store had been incredible.
"We started supplying IGA stores at Howlong, Corowa, Corryong and Beechworth; we've just picked up Ritchies IGA stores too," she said.
"We've doubled our pre-COVID production, we've put on more staff and we're bursting at the seams. We are incredibly grateful to IGA East Albury."
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.