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New store an all-Indigenous operation

Tony Barrass -

At the newly opened Bagala Community Store in the Northern Territory outback, $1 bottles of spring water are flying off the shelf.

Water has quickly become the fastest selling item at one of Australia's most remote retail establishments, closely followed by the healthy meal options prepared daily by the store's staff.

The store, owned by the local Bagala Aboriginal Corporation, opened last month in Barunga after a push by local women who wanted good food at affordable prices.

Weekly food shipments arrive from Darwin, 400km away by road.

It's run by eight Indigenous staff â€" the only store in the NT where the entire team is Indigenous.

"The community is very proud that their business is 100 percent owned and operated by local Indigenous people," store manager Amelita John said.

"The community are self-sufficient in providing good quality food for their people at a good price.

"They are also providing not only jobs but careers for local people and keeping people on country and with family.

"The community is not reliant on the closest hub of Katherine, some 80km away."

The new $2 million store took a year to plan and build and was a joint venture by the Federal and NT governments, Aboriginal Investment Group and Outback Stores, a company which provides retail services to remote community stores.

Similar to a mini supermarket, it stocks fresh produce, dry goods, freezer items as well as hardware, mechanical, white-goods and electrical appliances.

"It's certainly not just a place where people shop," Ms John said. "It is an integral part of community life.

"It's a place where people come to meet, discuss family and community issues, where people work, and feed their families."

Wendy Caccetta

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