The day that Aberdonians had been waiting for finally arrived last Thursday when the new Usave store opened its doors in the old Verspreiders building.
Newly appointed manager Tashwell Plaatjies, who moved to Aberdeen from the Beaufort West store, as well as visiting Regional Manager Andre Alberts were on hand to welcome customers.
As expected, the store was packed out and excited customers streamed through the doors. By late morning the rush had abated somewhat, as by opening before the end of the month, many potential customers had not yet been paid – however this did not stop them coming to look! Shelves appeared to be fully stocked, and except for a few gaps, prices were clearly shown on the shelves.
Outside the store, the Shoprite Mobile Soup Kitchen was doing brisk business, serving bread and soup to hungry shoppers and interested bystanders.
On Sunday and Monday, many customers queued to collect their SASSA payouts at the till, and due to the lack of signage, this did cause some confusion and delays for shoppers. Plaatjies explained that the store would obviously not be able to carry sufficient cash to pay every beneficiary in Aberdeen, but that they would certainly continue to provide a limited service for this.
All cashiers and shelf packers are Aberdeen residents, none of whom had worked in a Usave before, so a few minor problems due to inexperience have occurred, but these are more than offset by the friendly greetings and genuine pride in their jobs shown by the staff.
Manager Plaatjies is keen to listen to requests from customers for other goods that they would like to see on the shelves, and by lunchtime on the first day, already several people had apparently enquired about a few products. As a brand new store, it will obviously be a little trial-and-error in the first few months, but the aim is certainly to please and cater for what Aberdeen customers would like to buy. Plaatjies confirmed that he will put a suggestion box in the front of the store and will welcome input from customers.
This is the first national grocery chain store to open in Aberdeen, and residents are very grateful to Usave for providing this facility. Ward 7 councillor Rudy Jacobs congratulated both the owner of the building, Roelof van der Merwe, and Usave, for the wonderful investment in the town. “This is a first for Aberdeen and you have made it possible for future ventures to move here. In my capacity as the Aberdeen CBD Ward Councillor, I want to also thank you for the job opportunities you have brought to some of our unemployed. Our town’s economy has now also received a boost, all thanks to you” said Cllr Jacobs.