Posted by Swellengram

It's a Family Affair

  • Posted 3 months ago
  • Local Stories

The sale and subsequent demolition of the Swellengrebel Hotel to create space for a new shopping centre sparked a wave of reactions and rumours, as is often the case in small towns worldwide. The community was divided: some grieved the loss of a slice of Swellendam’s history, while others embraced the change, seeing it as a breath of fresh air and a chance for economic growth and job creation in the town. I must confess, I was among those who were just pleased at the prospect of new shops offering more variety and a change of pace.

The presence of a construction site in the heart of the town was initially unsettling. However, as the new brand signage went up, the parking lot paved, trees planted, and the smaller shops began to open, the centre’s thoughtful design became apparent. The unobstructed view of the magnificent Langeberg Mountains is nothing short of breathtaking.

The excitement of being one of the first to explore the new Pick n Pay supermarket and meet the family behind it was palpable. But my excitement paled in comparison to that of the young, energetic family who have taken on this venture. They were a picture of exhaustion and joy, pouring every ounce of their energy into ensuring everything was perfect for the grand opening on Thursday, April 25th.

Swellendam Tourism
From Left to Right: Quinton Vicente (Dad), Ligia Vicente (Mum), Carlos Vicente (Son), Patricia de Freitas, (Daughter) and Richard de Freitas (Son-in-Law)

Inquiring about their choice of Swellendam and whether they felt apprehensive about joining a community already catered to by two established supermarket chains, I found their response heartening.

They shared that they had been searching for the right opportunity to open a Pick n Pay franchise for some time. Upon visiting Swellendam, they were captivated by the town’s enchanting beauty and the untapped potential it held. The decision to set roots here seemed almost predestined, as if the town’s charm had woven a spell, inviting them to become a part of its community and promising growth and prosperity.

Their eyes lit up as they spoke of Swellendam, not just as a place of business, but as a home that welcomed them with open arms. It was clear that their venture was more than a commercial endeavour; it was a heartfelt commitment to the town and its people.

When asked about what would set them apart, their answer was sincere, they had a clear vision. Quinton (the dad) jumped up and held out his arms in an open welcoming gesture – they aspire to cultivate an environment rich in warmth and friendship—a place where they are not just proprietors but active participants, engaging with customers on a personal level, making each person who walks through the doors feel like an extension of their family.

Their commitment to community involvement is evident. With a bakery on-site, they’ve already begun to weave themselves into the local fabric by gifting freshly baked bread and pastries to Bontebok Primary School. Richard expressed their desire to integrate thoughtfully to get the lay of the land before diving in too deep. They’re here to add value, not ruffle feathers.

Swellendam Tourism

The store promises to be a haven for shoppers, with a charming Costa Coffee bar greeting customers at the entrance, inviting them to savour a moment of relaxation before (or after!) they shop.

The interior layout is meticulously designed for convenience and pleasure, featuring a butchery complete with a Halal section, a bakery exuding the aroma of fresh goods, sections for fresh produce, outdoor essentials, and homeware—truly a one-stop destination for all needs.

Providing excellent customer service is a top priority for this business – training was taking place while I was there – the new trainees were fully immersed and focused as they learned about the company’s systems and protocols.

Swellendam Tourism

Their doors will open wide from 07:00 to 20:00, every single day, ensuring accessibility and convenience. While they’re not doing deliveries just yet, they’re not ruling anything out for the future. Plus, they’ve got some cool specials and contests in the works to keep things lively.

In essence, they are not just opening a store; they are extending an invitation to experience shopping as a joyful, communal event, where every visit is more than a transaction—it’s a cherished interaction. Their vision is clear: to be a cornerstone of the community, creating a place where shopping is easy, fun, and where you feel like you’re among friends and family.

Photos: Graham Mutyambizi

Feature: Amanda Shackley

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