Federal residents could do with some good news. With the village scrabbling to buy back the old church and its only restaurant about to close, it will be a relief to at least be able to pick up the mail without a round trip to Bangalow.
The Federal Store, the future of which has been in doubt since doors closed almost two months ago, is opening under new management today.
New owner Simon Rose, who has been up to his elbows in the renovations, took time out to speak to me yesterday about his vision.
‘The negotiation took a very long time, the vendors having owned it for so long. They found it hard to sell, and I kind of don’t blame them, but they had no options.
‘The place is a total mess, bits of cardboard patching up holes here and there. So we’re working on it and we’re renovating it to open it up, make it feel nicer to come into. And then we’re going to ask the local population “what do you guys want because we’re your store and you’re going to be our customers”.’
‘We’re going to put in local products and whatever else they like.
‘The postal official was very patient with us because of the protracted negotiations but we had to settle by tomorrow to keep the licence.
‘We’ve got the services of some really good chefs who are going to take over the café – I won’t be running it myself – and at the other side we have a furniture shop, which is going to stay.
‘I’m enlarging the Federal Store and making it look more user friendly, and am enlarging the range of products.
‘My daughter and I have made a table to go in the store. Her middle name is Angel and we’re going to call it the Angel table. We’ll have all sorts of local products on the table – and not just food. I’d like little kids who make things to be able to put them on the table and sell them.
‘We’re open immediately for bread, milk, newspaper and of course the mail. On Easter Tuesday we’ll be opening the modified shop, with a wider range of goods, and the full renovations will come later.
‘The store will be managed by Louisa Chambers, who’s a local, and the staff we have employed so far have been really nice. The Clunes shop changed hands and I was lucky enough to employ the bottle shop man from there to look after that side of it, and his ex-bosses have been very helpful in pointing out what to order from where and what the locals like. We also have some of the old employees who will be working in the shop.’
‘Do I think I’ll make money out of it? I don’t know. Federal wants it, and I want to provide them with a shop that they’re not being exploited by and gives them good service.’