Aputula Store: before and after
The Aputula Store in Finke (NT) has been completely refurbished, with both locals and visitors impressed with the results.
“The community is so excited and happy about how the shop looks. When family members visit from other communities they say ‘Wow, what happened here?’ And then they tell their store managers back in their own community how good it looks,” says Charmaine Stuart, chairperson of the Aputula Aboriginal Corporation (AAC).
Thanks to grant funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Aputula Store has doubled its floor space and has new ceilings, floors and all new fixtures – including chiller and fridge storage, hot and cold takeaway options, and fruit and veg displays. There are over 400 new items now available for sale, spanning all categories.
“There’s more food on the shelves, and more space to do shopping. It’s an exciting thing for the community. They are proud of the corporation working together with Outback Stores and they feel well looked after,” says Charmaine.
Top: Aputula Store after the refurbishments
Bottom: Charmaine Stuart, chairperson of Aputula Aboriginal Corporation
There’s more food on the shelves, and more space to do shopping. It’s an exciting thing for the community.
– Charmaine Stuart
The AAC engaged Outback Stores to work alongside them in February 2021, and Charmaine says that since then she has learned a lot about governance and can see the community learning about making healthier choices. The local store directors recently made changes to the package reduction of full-sugar soft drinks and are looking at implementing other sugar-reduction strategies.
Charmaine says that the local staff are happy with their shifts and enjoy the training opportunities offered by Outback Stores.
“They enjoy going to work and are doing it from the heart. I see them improving what they are capable of – doing it for our store and community,” Charmaine says.
Charmaine has worked several jobs in the community, such as for Catholic Care and Centrelink, but says she really enjoys her role as chairperson of the AAC and is looking forward to contributing more as a leader and traditional owner for the community. “It’s a big role and big responsibility, looking after everyone in the community.”
Charmaine says the community can’t wait to show off their new store to the visitors of next year’s Finke Desert Race. Aputula is also the setting for one of the Northern Territory’s biggest annual sporting events. With the race attracting 600 competitors from around the country, there are many visitors who will appreciate the increased range of products.
“Everybody will be really shocked to see the new store when they come to the Finke race next year,” says Charmaine.