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Community to rally against Target closure

Save Target West Wyalong

West Wyalong’s Main Street will turn into a sea of red next week when the community comes together to protest against the planned closure of West Wyalong’s Target Country department store.

Target announced last week its intention to close the West Wyalong store on 6 June, leaving 10 staff out of work and an entire community with nowhere to buy basic items such as socks and underwear.

The bombshell has saddened and united the West Wyalong community, who are expected to turn out in force next Thursday, 9 April, wearing red clothing in support of the affected staff and keeping Target in West Wyalong.

The rally is being organised by Business West Wyalong in conjunction with Bland Shire Council and will take place at 3pm at the intersection of Main Street and Monash Street.

In the meantime, two social media pages have been established supporting the retention of Target in West Wyalong with a combined reach of more than 50,000 people in the first few days of the campaign while a petition is circulating throughout the town which has already attracted several hundred signatures and will be presented to Target and Wesfarmers management after the rally.

The petition calls on Target and its parent company, Wesfarmers, not to walk away from country towns. Prior to the West Wyalong announcement, Target recently closed stores in Wellington and neighbouring Condobolin.

“Wesfarmers was founded in 1914 as a Western Australian farmers co-operative and country communities such as ours helped establish and grow the company to what it has become today,” Bland Shire Mayor, Neil Pokoney said.

“It is sad that this company is now seemingly walking away from those same communities.

“Bland Shire Council understands that Wesfarmers has a responsibility to its shareholders and must turn a profit. We strongly believe that Target in West Wyalong can be profitable with some minor adjustments to its operations to suit rural communities.

“Council has extended an invitation to senior management at both Target and Wesfarmers to meet to discuss strategies to help keep the West Wyalong store open and make it viable in the long term.”

While fully behind the lobbying efforts led by Business West Wyalong, Council has also commenced investigations into possible alternatives for the community if Target does close its doors as planned on 6 June.

“We will stand side by side with Business West Wyalong and the rest of the community and fight for the retention of the Target store in West Wyalong,” Mayor Pokoney said.

“At the same time it is also important that we actively explore alternate options on behalf of the community to fill the enormous hole left by Target if they do close their doors as planned.”

Mayor Pokoney said the closure of Target’s West Wyalong store will have a “domino effect” across the Bland Shire community.

“It will have a significant impact on the elderly, local families and local business in particular,” he said.

“Target stocks a range of merchandise not otherwise available in our community and people, in particular young families, will be forced out of town to purchase those items and while there will likely also buy items that are currently available through local businesses.

“Meanwhile, the elderly and disabled will be left with nowhere to go and limited means to access shopping opportunities outside West Wyalong.”

Mayor Pokoney said the rally was an opportunity for people to publicly show their support for the campaign to retain Target as well as local business in general.

“I implore the local community to step out in force on Thursday to send a strong message to Target and a show of support for the staff who are about to lose their jobs. I would also encourage everyone to shop locally and continue to support our resilient and dedicated local business community,” he said.