Baldi’s employees come back for reunion

Baldi’s Supermarket Staff Reunion organiser Janice Collins with some of the store’s original staff members Jan Knight, Joan O’Brien and Coral Young (nee Lloyd) along with Meri Baldi (at centre).

For 37 years the Baldi family owned and operated a very successful supermarket in Cobar that provided employment for more than 70 people.

Many of the Baldi Supermarket’s former employees gathered for a reunion on Saturday night at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club.

Reunion organiser and former employee, Janice Collins, said working at Baldi’s you felt very much like you were part of the extended Baldi family.

“It was a great place to work,” she said.

Many of the staff, like Janice, worked there for many years until the supermarket was sold in 1999.

Past staff travelled from Taree, Wodonga, Dubbo, Orange, Buderim and the Gold Coast to join locals for a catch up on Saturday.

Also back for the reunion, was one of the Baldi family, Meri Baldi, who grew up in Cobar.

Meri Baldi, representing the Baldi family, was pleased to return home to Cobar on Saturday night to catch up with former Baldi’s Supermarket staff at a reunion. Meri is pictured with former butcher shop staff Rob Miller (1979-1985), Vince Sikora (who spent at total of 24 years working at the supermarket under Joe Baldi and then Hamesters and Khans) and Greg Lowe (who began his apprenticeship in 1986 and went on to work for the Baldi family for 12 years).

Meri can recall “doing her apprenticeship packing spuds out the back”.

“As soon as we were old enough, Dad put us kids to work in the supermarket,” Meri said.

Her father, Italian born, Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Baldi, emigrated to Australia in 1956 with his wife Ivana and eldest son Maurizo (along with good friend Angelo Parisi, his wife Connie and their son Mario).

The men, who were miners in their Tuscan town of Massa Maritta, answered a newspaper advertisement looking for miners to work at the Radium Hill Uranium mine in South Australia.

In 1962, the two families (which now included Meri and her brother Sandro and a second son for the Parisis, Claud) came to live in Cobar with Joe and Angelo part of the mine crew who sank the No 1 Shaft at the CSA Mine.

In 1965 while still working at the mine, Joe opened a fruit and vegetable shop, which Ivana ran.

Meri said the business was successful and her dad kept expanding the shop (where the Red Earth Real Estate office is now) which they soon outgrew.

The Baldi’s Staff Reunion was a great excuse to bring out some old photos and
memorabilia such as this photo of some of the Baldi’s Supermarket original staff from the 1960s, Jan Knight, Joan O’Brien and Coral Young (nee Lloyd) with Mrs Ivana Baldi. The women came together again for our front page photo this week Photo contributed

In 1972, Joe built a new modern supermarket, now the Khan’s SUPA IGA store.

Meri said at the time he had competition from two other supermarkets, Wright Heatons and Rankins, but he thought there was a need for it.

“Dad provided the best service and put the other ones out of business,” Meri said.

She said her father always thought it a priority to look after his staff.

“Dad always said if you look after me, I’ll look after you.”