The demise of Macro Wholefoods shouldn’t go unremarked on this site.
Macro was an icon at Bondi. Many years ago it was at the forefront of the organic movement, long before we people in the organic world became an “organic industry”.
Macro was emulated but the original store remained true to its roots. I remember going in there once and, cheekily (because I already knew), asking a staff member if they stocked meat. The young dreadlocked woman fixed me with a stare and very carefully indicated every corner of the store with large waves of her hand as she told me: “We don’t carry meat anywhere here in this store.” She was very adamant I understood this and I admired her for her passion, her belief and her earnestness about a healthy diet for body, planet and our fellow creatures.
That was Macro. It was a reasonably small store but one that just buzzed with energy and the cafe always seemed packed.
Then it was bought by Pierce Cody and Brett Blundy.
It changed tack. It grew. It became part of an organic industry, where overall value was measured in dollars and the whole was washed in various shades of green. That wasn’t necessarily bad but Pierce Cody was constantly ready to tell everyone who’d listen that this strategy was the only way forward. At the same time he promised the bright and easy future of organic retailing, he denigrated the “spotty-fruited, hippy past”, whose work over many decades in fact provided him with the point from which he was jumping off.
My friend Barbara Murray, who died last Xmas Eve after a long battle with cancer, owned, with husband John, a wonderful store in Crows Nest called Annabel’s. It stood valiantly against the sudden Macro onslaught across the road but couldn’t survive more than a few weeks.
Now Macro itself has failed, it seems a pity so much was lost along the way and all for naught. Cody never realised organic retailing isn’t as easy as he was making out and that a lot of what he attempted was on the shoulders of people who’d done the hard yards before him and whose efforts he failed to recognize or acknowledge. When the brand-new Concord store failed after just weeks, he blamed the local populace for being not the right demographic. Hubris became the word that occured to me every time I thought about Macro.
There was none of the original spirit of Macro left. It was merely a name grafted onto something different. Struggling quietly and denying rumours of a sellout, Macro kept its doors open until the behemoth Woolworths came along. The massive national supermarket chain gobbled up the struggling Macro a few months ago to acquire sites for the expansion of its Thomas Dux branded stores. As a competitor organic retailer, I was saddened to see the demise of Macro but it was already far from its roots.
As of writing (Macro closed entirely last weekend), their website is still functioning, promising stores far and wide. Full of bluster, no-one ever went back to gauge the reality against the promises. The flashing website now seems like a tatty plastic bag caught in the branches of a tree. One day soon, someone at Woolies will flick off the switch and then Macro will be no more than a memory.