It has been ten years since John Jeffery took over the helm of Maleny Town and Country Supplies, a small rural store previously owned by Dairy Farmers and catering for the Maleny District dairy industry. Writer, Angela Reedman-Polinski met with John to look back and hear the journey of how this ‘one-stop shop’ has grown and adapted to continue servicing the community.
by Angela Reedman-Polinski
Maleny Town and Country Supplies stands tall on Coral St and supplies a huge range of animal medication, hardware and a fully equipped garden centre. This is the type of place where you can walk in and find fencing posts, farm gates and camping gear right through to purple gumboots, super soft bamboo socks and a brand-new toaster.
John Jeffery is the proud owner of Maleny Town and Country Supplies, but it took a few decades before he planted his roots here.
John grew up in Victoria in the 1950s and ‘60s, where he developed a love for family, football and a taste for adventures.
“I met my wife, Paula, in Victoria and we enjoyed many adventures in faraway places, from outback cattle stations to tropical resorts over our forty-five years together.”
The couple raised a family of two sons in both Papua New Guinea and Australia through John’s banking and hospitality careers. In that time John enjoyed a long association with Maleny, having been a regular visitor to friends as far back as thirty years ago.
“Maleny was one of the places we liked to visit in our travels and I accepted the manager position of the rural supply store in 2007, when it was still fairly small.”
John went on to purchase the business in 2009 and he and the team have worked hard over the past ten years to continuously adapt and expand to match the community’s needs.
“Our vision was to develop the business to where it is today, a highly sought after store that meets the needs of a wide range of customers. We wanted to make it friendly and comfortable to everyone.”
“To stay in business, we had to diversify and that we did. It meant that our rural supply to over 300 dairy farms has changed dramatically, so much so that there are now only about a dozen dairy farms in the immediate area.“
Tragically, in the early stage of ownership of the business, Paula fought Motor Neurone Disease through to January 2016 where sadly she lost the battle.
John lovingly shares the stories in his book Paula & Me, in an uplifting, positive and honoured style celebrating their amazing life together.
“I felt like my heart was torn from me when I lost Paula, but I was humbled by the support from my family and friends. My store manager, Brendan Hicks, took the helm of the store and handled all day to day operations for me. This gave me precious relief and time to support Paula and eventually return to my role.”
After a few years away, John returned to his daily life at the store and being amongst the familiar faces. Like the customers, he enjoyed being back amongst the smell of hay in his nostrils and the community that keeps the local store active.
John is most proud of the friendships, loyalty and supportive efforts of all his staff team. The owner and manager relationship is working well and staying strong as this dedicated team continue facing the everyday business challenges.
“The store is in good hands. Brendan and the staff still operate it today like it’s their own, I owe them big time for their support over the years and I appreciate them so much for being there for me.”
The focus now is on growing the business and diversifying, whilst still providing continued personal customer service.
“We know the time spent with our customers is an important value of the business and I like that we get to know them personally.”
I ask John what he has loved the most about being the owner of Maleny Town and Country Supplies for the past ten years.
“I take great delight in showing new customers the full range of products available, so they can see first-hand what we have to offer. We get plenty of laughs, we even have customers that bring their dogs in while they are shopping.”
“I also like that owning the store provides me with plenty of opportunities to support our local community. We provide our goods and services to the Maleny Show Society, the Maleny Garden Club and we are there to support our local tradies too.”
This one-stop shop really has it all. You can drop in and say hello to John and Brendan, pick up some new work boots, and maybe even leave with a jar of fresh local honey and seasonal fruit!
John is a firm believer in bolstering the local community. “I know how we can support each other by buying and shopping locally. If we have it here, we can produce, purchase and provide locally to support the community.”