The new Victorian Country Stores (RACV article)

In the latest edition of the RACV Royal Auto magazine (Dec 2011-Jan 2012) is an article by Tricia Welsh that comes just when you might be travelling on holidays (in Victoria that is), so we thought we’d bring it to your attention. It’s online here. It’s a listing and description of what has become a real delight to us in the world of Regional Food. I’m sure you’ve noticed the way that a new generation of storekeepers are rebuilding the tradition of small local general stores (and often nowdays adding a cafe, and selling wine as wel). These are people who believe that their region can support a small outlet for quality local goods and understand the economics of doing it. The former storekeepers  either didn’t understand the changes around them or just gave up in the face of supermarket competition in nearby bigger towns.  Tricia describes it as ‘progress moving in’ but it’s a lot more complex than that.

There’s a process of small farm and local business closures that cut the economic base from the town, which then leaves affordable properties for tree-changers. They don’t want to see the old buildings demolished because that was part of the character that attracted them to the region, and with the realities of making a living from a farm, many head for a second job or create their own. These new owners don’t just want to sell ‘commodities’ so they promote regional produce and crafts knowing the advantages of ‘value adding’.  Among them are the seasoned hospitality professionals who just know a bargain business and growth opportunity.

This has often caused a regeneration of a region, and we’ve told you stories of towns like Jugiong in NSW where the Long Flat Pantry revitalised a town bypassed by the Hume Highway. There are lots more.

These are Tricia’s pick of the best re-born or new Victorian country stores. I’ve added some links to their relevant websites (yep that’s another sign of recognising change and good marketing).  See her RACV Royal Auto article for all the details. Be aware if you’re travelling, many of these places close early.

The buzz in Merricks General Wine Store – Image from their website

Otway NouriShed, 3810 Colac-Lavers Hill Rd, Ferguson, 5235 9226. Open 10am-5.30pm daily. Owner Amy Bain

The Wye General Store, 35 Great Ocean Rd, Wye River, 5289 0247. Open 7am-10pm daily. Owners Dave Sharry and Richie Ludbrook.

Moriac General Store, 561 Cape Otway Rd, 5266 1229. Open Mon-Fri 6.30am-6.30pm, Sat-Sun and public holidays 8am-6pm. Owned by the Eddy family. The adjoining Off the Rails cafe serves light meals.

Birregurra General Store, 59-61 Main St, 5236 2013. Open Mon-Tue 6am-6pm, Wed 6am-8pm, Thu-Sat 6am-8.30pm, Sun 7am-8.30pm. Owner Joe Habib.

Merricks General Wine Store, 3460 Frankston-Flinders Rd, 5989 8088. Open daily 9am-5pm. Chef is Janine Richmond.

Somers General Store, 2 The Boulevard, 5983 2070. The store and cafe are open daily 8.30am-5pm, the cafe Fri-Sat until late. Owner Leisa Wharington.

Port Albert General Store, Cafe & Winebar, 75 Tarraville Rd, 5183 2126. Open Sun, Wed 7.30am-4pm, Thu-Sat 7.30am-late. Owners chef Kim Wherrett and Konan Kouakou.

Cabbage Tree Creek General Store, Princes Hwy, 5158 1224. Open Sun-Thu 8am-6.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-7pm. Owners Jo and Peter Fischer.

Kernot Food & Wine Store (Facebook), 1075 Kernot-Loch Rd, 5678 8555. Open: Thu, Sun 9am-5pm, Fri, Sat 9am-9.30pm. Owners Kevin and Renee Wheeler

Ruffy Produce Store, 26 Nolans Rd, 5790 4387. Open Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun and public holidays 8am-4pm. Owners Helen McDougall and Doug Maclean

Tooborac General Store, 5015 Northern Hwy, 5433 5313. Open Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. Owners Peter and Emma Ryan.

Newham General Store, 2 Dons Rd, 5427 0766. Open Mon 8.30am-1pm, Wed-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 8am-3pm and Sun 9am-3pm. Owners Michael and Julia McNamara. (They have a lonely Facebook page here)

Glenlyon General Store, 63 Barkly St, 5348 7922. Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 9am-6pm. Owners Tania and David Levens

Cliffy’s Emporium, 30 Raglan St, Daylesford, 5348 3279. Open daily 9am-5pm.

Wright on Broadway, 127 Broadway, Dunolly, 5468 1245. Open Fri-Sun 9am-5pm. Owner Fiona Lindsay.


Off course there’s more, so please tell us about them. And not just Victorian ones




A new generation of storekeepers are rebuilding the tradition of small town general stores.