BEATING HEART: For 27 years they have been central to the beating heart of the district from Normanby Bridge to the Mary Valley but now Bruce and Delia Russel will be doing things their way.
BEATING HEART: For 27 years they have been central to the beating heart of the district from Normanby Bridge to the Mary Valley but now Bruce and Delia Russel will be doing things their way. Troy Jegers

'Beating heart' of Jones Hill to change hands

FOR nearly 27 years Bruce and Delia Russell have been the beating heart of Jones Hill, as well as a commuter territory from Pie Creek and Normanby to the Mary Valley.

A lot has changed in that time for their Jones Hill Store.

The GST for example.

"Thank God for computers,” Bruce said yesterday, before adding, "and thank God for Delia - she understands them.”

When the Russells close up their Jones Hill Store for the last time, next Wednesday week, they hope no-one notices any real change for the business they have built up over a generation.

It was almost 27 years ago in a much less demanding time that they first bought a much smaller shop building with a much smaller range of products.

"Twenty-six and a half years actually,” Mr Russell said yesterday.

"And some hours,” Mrs Russell put in.

"It was a going concern,” they said, "with an established customer base.”

But Jones Hill has grown hugely since then, especially since the Echelon estate opened up nearby.

"We've improved it quite substantially, with air conditioning and big extensions,” Mrs Russell said.

"The counter was right back in the back corner. We moved it more to the centre of the store and then again to where it is now.”

"We've always had the fuel sales,” Mr Russell said of the service station part of the business.

"And most things are much the same.”

"Lately we've put in the hot box and the coffee machine's only gone in in the past two years,” Mrs Russell said.

"The neighbourhood's grown a lot...” Mr Russell said.

"The subdivisions... ,”Mrs Russell finished the sentence.

"Jones Hill used to be just the other side of the road,” Mr Russell continued.

"And we get a lot of Pie Creek tradies and other commuters popping in on their way to work, and vice versa.

"Above all,” Mrs Russell said, "it's a convenience store.

"And that means you have to provide people with the things they need when they run out.

"People don't do their weekly shop here, but if you run out of icing sugar half way through making a cake, that's where we come in.”

"We looked at stores all around Gympie but this was the position we wanted. Driving around was the research we did,” he said.

"This is a fantastic spot.”

Another product innovation is the store's big customer magnet, it's big range of soft drinks and flavoured milk products.

"We often get comments that we have the coldest soft drinks, and that's important to people.”

"We've got a lot more fridges and the electricity bill is pretty high, but we have solar panels to make it a bit cheaper,” she said.

The Russells will miss some of the customers who have become family friends.

"They came in as children and now they bring their children in.”

The emerging cashless society is also a big influence with "90 per cent of takings currently EFTpos.”

So what are they going to do now?

"Whatever we like,” they said.

Gympie Times


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