Five-year plan to half-century

Headshot of Peter Sweeney
Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
Happy birthday for a happy couple, Beryl and John Rigter.
Camera IconHappy birthday for a happy couple, Beryl and John Rigter. Credit: Peter Sweeney

They started on a Labour Day long weekend with a five-year plan.

The journey may have been a labour of love, but the time plan went out the window.

Fifty years on, John and Beryl Rigter are still doing what they love: serving people at the supermarket.

A business which began as a humble highway provisions store on this weekend in 1969, has grown into three IGA supermarkets, three Cellarbrations liquor stores and two restaurant bars — Bite’z, and Cutler & Smith.

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And over the years, the Rigters have given countless numbers a job.

When asked how many people they had employed over five decades, John Rigter, understandably, said he had “no idea”.

He gave the same answer when asked how much money and the like they had given to clubs and organisations in half a century.

Dutch-born Mr Rigter was reared at Millicent in South Australia.

He joined the air force and travelled around Australia, having a short stay in Perth.

But the “short stay” was long enough to meet Geraldton-reared Beryl Nash who, after six years, suggested they return to her birthplace.

Their original outlet was on the corner of Durlacher and Elizabeth streets.

Their original plan was to work at the supermarket for only five years.

The business began with four employees and the motto “focus on customers, they are our employers”.

“That’s still our motto 50 years on,” Mr Rigter said. “As the business grew, we bought Golden Crust Bakery, our neighbour, and shifted into there. We extended the shop three or four times and then moved out to Wonthella, where a Tom The Cheap store used to be.

“It was vacant for a year or so and my father-in-law (Len Nash) bought it and suggested we reopen the store.

“Since then we have moved to a few sites, but I think this will do us.”

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