A Sky News Journo Reckons The Reject Shop Isn’t “Essential” So Fuck Poor People, I Guess?
If you don't think The Reject Shop is essential, you're too privileged to question why it's open.
In yesterday’s daily press conference, a Sky News journalist casually asked Gladys Berejiklian why Bunnings and The Reject Shop were open during lockdown.
As NSW battles through daily case numbers hovering in the 200s — with today’s daily count sitting at 262 additional cases, with 290 currently hospitalised and a concerning five more deaths overnight — Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell questioned why “non-essential businesses” were still open.
“Why aren’t some of these businesses shut? Why are people still travelling to work?” Clennell asked during the presser. “Can’t you go harder with this lockdown because what you are doing at the moment hasn’t been reducing the numbers?”
“Obviously the lockdown rules we have in NSW are some of the harshest our nation has seen,” the NSW Premier responded. “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?” the Sky News journo interjected. “Why is Bunnings open, it is not open in Queensland?”
“Next question,” Berejiklian responded, ignoring the follow-up that was not only a clear display of the journalist’s privilege but also just factually incorrect.
Why is the reject shop still open? Asks some middle class tool journo who probably went to a private school.
Because is sells food, and it's cheap and those on low wages shop there for bulk items.
The pandemic has shown the haves and the have nots.
— Michael Hillier (@hillierme) August 4, 2021
Now I’m not sure who else needs to hear this beyond Clennell, who has clearly never been down on his luck and financially struggling, but The Reject Shop *is* an essential store for low-income Australians.
While most people associate The Reject Shop with the middle aisle of Aldi, brushing it off as some sort of magical place full of random knick-knacks, skiing gear, and mini plastic dinosaurs, The Reject Shop actually sells groceries and home essentials for cheap.
It’s a great place for low-income families to buy pantry staples, where pasta goes for 50 cents, as do Corn Thins. When compared to traditional grocery stores the need for The Reject Shop becomes even clearer, with a five-pack of Mi Goreng noodles ringing in at just $2.25 compared to $3 at Woolworths. Meanwhile, Passata is just 50 cents, which is a whole dollar cheaper than the cheapest options at both Woolies and Coles.
Beyond grocery items, The Reject Shop also sells home essentials like toiletries, cleaning supplies, and pet food that can otherwise be costly at traditional grocers.
Really, the reality is that if you’re in a position to even think that The Reject Shop isn’t an “essential” store, you’re probably too privileged to be questioning why it’s open — and the Sky News journo has been slammed for exactly this.
Hoo boy. Lotta folks out here showing that they've never truly lived on a budget.
"The Reject Shop isn't essential!" It is when you have $20 left in your account for the fortnight & you still need groceries, shampoo & laundry detergent.
— Sharna Bremner (@sharnatweets) August 4, 2021
'The Reject Shop should be closed' demands person who thinks letting low-income people starve will make a health crisis better
— Chaser Interns (@ChaserInterns) August 4, 2021
Btw here's why the reject shop is still open pic.twitter.com/3i7QnBp7p9
— Kishor (@kishor_nr) August 4, 2021
Most people can see why Bunnings is open. But many can't get their head around The Reject Shop. You've probably never been in one.
They offer families in financial hardship very affordable every day goods – food, toys, clothes, shampoo, etc. They are crucial for these families.
— Harnsle Joo (@Harnsle) August 4, 2021
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
Yes, Bunnings Is Also Essential
As for why Bunnings is deemed essential, when you can’t afford handymen or plumbers or electricians to fix every single issue around your home, sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands.
According to serviceseeking.com, real customers who have hired home-repair professionals in Australia have paid approximately $50/hour plus a call-out fee for a handyman — an unexpected additional expense that can really build up as more issues around the home arise.
For example, David from Victoria paid one handyman $175 to install a small mirror, replace one towel rail and install another in his home. Meanwhile, Lili from NSW was charged $187.20 just to change the lock on one door and open another that was padlocked. In one of the more expensive jobs listed, Messina from Queensland had to fork out $1,000 for someone to paint two bathroom ceilings, replace the silicone around a shower and bathtub, and seal grout in the shower.
Now, this isn’t to say that tradespeople aren’t deserving of the fees they charge. But it does demonstrate how costly home repairs can get, and for most struggling Australians it’s just not a justifiable cost when repair supplies can be bought from Bunnings at a fraction of the price. Bunnings also remains open during lockdown because tradespeople famously still need somewhere to buy their supplies if people choose the handyman route for home repairs, too.
Despite what Clennell incorrectly suggested, Bunnings is actually still open in Queensland during lockdown — as it is in NSW — because it has been deemed an essential store.
“Our stores 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 Bunnings website notes.
At the end of the day, regardless of where Australians decide to buy their groceries or purchase home repair supplies, the concept of what is “essential” to each person differs greatly. So next time if Andrew Clennell could check his privilege before trying to question why poor people require the option of cheaper stores, that would be great.