If there’s one thing COVID-19 has exposed in our society, it’s that some people just have no idea what it’s like to be broke and struggling to get your pay through the week.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was answering questions in the daily presser today (which saw 233 new cases and 174 places exposure sites added to alert lists) when a journo asked why places like Bunnings or The Reject Shop are still open.
“Obviously the lockdown rules we have in NSW are some of the harshest our nation has seen,” Gladys said.
“We need people to remember every time they leave the house that they could have the virus or someone they come into contact with could have the virus.”
“Why is The Reject Shop open?” a journo interrupted.
Berejiklian responded that non-essential businesses should be closed when the reporter interjected again.
“Why is Bunnings open, it is not open in Queensland?” the reporter asked. Gladys didn’t answer her.
For the record, Bunnings actually is open in Queensland despite the latest outbreak, because it’s considered an essential service for people who may need emergency repairs.
I get the anger and frustration at leadership, but the Reject Shop and places like it sell groceries(we shopped there for dry goods many times)& when on a budget, is essential. Bunnings sells essential items. It's not cut and dried. What shops you deem essential can be different
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) August 4, 2021
The Bunnings website actually has a statement explaining why it has been classified as an essential service.
“Our stores located in the local government areas of Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour are classified as critical and remain open to ensure customers and tradespeople have access to the products they need to complete emergency repairs and maintenance around homes or to supply essential infrastructure and services, in line with government guidance,” the website says.
Some people can’t afford to call in a tradie when things at home fall apart (and trust me, if you’re renting in Sydney, this happens way more than you’d think).
The same goes for The Reject Shop, which stocks basic groceries like spices, pasta, canned goods, two minute noodles, toiletries, and other random but essential stuff – and usually at half the price of other supermarkets, too.
For that reason, The Reject Shop is close to the heart of anyone that’s been broke and struggling. Anyone who thinks it isn’t an essential supermarket can tell that to the $30 in my bank account.
People on Twitter are slamming the idea that discount stores which sell essential good should be closed, saying this approach is classist and privileged. And they’re not wrong.
Btw here's why the reject shop is still open pic.twitter.com/3i7QnBp7p9
— Kishor (@kishor_nr) August 4, 2021
"Bunnings isn't essential!" It is when you have urgent house repairs & paying a professional is out of the question so it's DIY all the way.
"Just get it delivered!" Not when the delivery fee means $10 less to spend on food.
— Sharna Bremner (@sharnatweets) August 4, 2021
The snobbishness in responses to this are wild. Pasta 500g is 50c a bag at Reject Shop. Rice cakes and corn thins at 50c for an entire packet. If you’re on a very tight budget these sorts of differences in price actually matter? https://t.co/U6xT1jZmNe
— Jennifer Duke (@JennieDuke) August 4, 2021
the reject shop sells groceries
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) August 4, 2021
Oh nooooo not the Reject Shop how dare poor people buy affordable toiletries and such ???????????????? https://t.co/JlbzXHC2SA
— Tony Shalhoub Memes Founder (@maximumcuddles) August 4, 2021
Also the Reject Shop sells groceries… but perhaps the person asking the question considers it a bit too beneath one to be seen shopping there…
— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) August 4, 2021
The thing about this Reject Shop discourse is that it exposes something kind of ugly in the way we discuss this pandemic: we are constantly trying to punish poor people for existing, for needing extra or specific services, for not being able to afford to shop at certain places, or for having to travel to work.
also in all seriousness there's something pretty revealing in relation to class and culture about a journo fixating on bunnings and the reject shop
— Sam (@Dollaryd00s) August 4, 2021
Instead of discussing why specific essential stores are open, we should be discussing why vaccines were rolled out so late, or why only certain people have access to them, or how the government has failed so miserably in gaining the trust and confidence of the communities they need to get vaccinated. Not whether the fucking Reject Shop should be open.