White’s IGA Forest Glen: The Heart of Community

Image source: Photographer Patricia Casajús

After 30 years of loyalty to local growers and makers, Roz and Michael White have launched their sixth White’s IGA in Forest Glen. Georgia Beard reveals how the Grand Opening celebrates a history of homegrown produce, old and emerging.

As the local community looked on in anticipation, Mayor Mark Jamieson reached for a ribbon wreathed in leaves and cut it in two, officially opening the doors to White’s IGA Forest Glen. Under a Guard of Honour, founders Roz and Michael White were the first to enter their sixth grocer on the Sunshine Coast.

Led by MC Shane Jacobson, Tomkins Commercial Director Mike Tomkins and Tony Riddle, Chairman of the Board for Forest Glen Village Centre, crowds of families and friends wandered through their new community hub. A White’s IGA has never been busier – not even on Christmas.

Sampling free antipasto, charcuterie and freshly squeezed juices as they went, visitors discovered dedicated spaces for gifts, homewares and delicacies surrounding the familiar aisles.

Named after Roz and Michael’s grandmothers, Grace & Grace houses a chocolatier, a florist and artisanal homewares next to an in-store café and stands for popcorn and lollies. Just across the Gibbins Boulevard, The Market Deli takes pride of place alongside Sonny’s Butcher Shop named to honour Roz’s father’s dog.

From native foods to locally farmed produce to hand-crafted wares, Roz and Michael have stocked their shelves with around 200 homegrown suppliers.

Supporting local makers and growers is not just their business approach – it’s their way of life.

“Roz and Michael are heavily involved in championing the paddock-to-plate movement on our Sunshine Coast, which is rich in premium quality agricultural products,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said during the Grand Opening.

“The Locavore program undertaken by White’s across their IGA stores means consumables grown, raised and produced in a small target radius are sold on these shelves to our community.

“This approach not only ensures the freshest produce on your tables at home but also supports local businesses and the improvement of the local economy.”

The land has been the beating heart of Forest Glen for decades. Kabi Kabi peoples maintained ancient connections to country, while early settlements brought South Sea Islanders to work in timber cutting from 1862.

When the Gibbins family moved to the area to grow fruit in 1894, Grandma Gibbins changed the name from Gibbins Pocket to Forest Glen.

Roz and Michael kept this history close to mind when they chose the location for their new store.

“The early pioneering days of timber cutting, rail and local families growing fresh produce in the fertile soil; then transporting it to Woombye and the Brisbane Markets, but also selling it at the old roadside stores – that, in fact, is the very practice that inspired my vision for this store,” Roz said.

“Every element and every corner of the store has been deeply considered, handpicked and custom-built with hand-drawn designs. It’s unique to White’s and it’s unique to Forest Glen.”

The supermarket space has become the most innovative and personalised in the White’s IGA Group. Constructed by Tomkins Commercial, the building took over a year to complete with three months lost to rain. Now, the Forest Glen IGA joins Baringa, Bli Bli, Mooloolah, Mount Coolum and Peregian Beach in one family of grocers.

“We have created a heart-space for our community, and we invite you to socialise, linger, stay and connect,” Roz said.

“When you walk through here, she will embrace you. She has a big heart. She is full of stories and history that reflect the local area and part of mine and Michael’s 30-year journey.”

As the first local customers passed through the doors and filled their shopping trolleys, it became clear that White’s IGA Forest Glen didn’t just honour history. It was – and is – history in the making.

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