Big sizes, low prices
Adelaide’s fascination with buying in bulk to save money is not new. Before Costco, shoppers flocked to Half-Case Warehouse. Our local Half-Case Warehouse store opened in February 1980, at 432 North East Road, Windsor Gardens, which is currently the site of the Bunnings construction site. The Leader Messenger published a large advertising spread for the Half-Case Warehouse first birthday sale, on Wednesday 11 February, 1981, from pages 9 to 11. Half-Case Warehouse provided genuine competition for the big retailers such as Coles and Woolworths. In the same issue, Target and Coles advertised as offering ‘Warehouse’ and ‘Discount warehouse’ prices respectively.
Half-Case Warehouse supermarkets were so named because most of the goods on display were sold in half-carton lots. Instead of standard supermarket shelving, you might choose your purchases from large cartons positioned on the floor. If you had found a single item for sale, it would have been in a large size. Unlike Costco, you did not need to pay a membership fee at Half-Case.
Half-Case Warehouse at Windsor Gardens was operated by former Australian Rules footballer Bob Hammond. His status as a local hero probably raised the profile of this particular store. Bob Hammond played in the SANFL for the North Adelaide and Norwood football clubs from 1960 to 1975. He coached the Redlegs, leading them to win premierships in 1975 and 1978. Bob also coached the South Australian State team. He went on to coach the Sydney Swans towards the end of the 1984 season. At the end of 1990 he was appointed as the first chairman of Adelaide Football Club.
You might wonder how you could possibly store all this food that you bought in bulk. You would certainly need a lot of cupboard space. The trend in the 1970s and 1980s was to buy a large freezer, to accommodate buying bulk meat or other perishable goods. My parents owned a Malleys Tucker Box but there were many other brands of freezers available, such as the those pictured on sale at Kelly’s Electrical Discounter at St. Agnes Shopping Centre.