Fredericks reopens its makeshift doors

In the classic Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life, an angel helps the compassionate but troubled businessman George Bailey by showing him what life would have been like if he never existed.

This week the tight-knit Jamberoo community was given a glimpse of life without its general store and it responded in an inspirational way, worthy of any Christmas tale.

Never before have so many Jamberoo residents been so happy buying bread and milk as they were at the new Fredericks IGA Jamberoo yesterday.

GALLERY: Town's got community spirit

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GALLERY: Historical pictures of store

The smell of smoke still lingers in Jamberoo's main street, following Monday morning's dramatic fire which destroyed the town's heritage-listed general store.

But yesterday it was all smiles at the hastily converted former arts precinct building.

On Thursday more than 50 people lent their support to a working bee to provide a new home for the Fredericks' business, which has serviced the Jamberoo community since 1924.

There have been multiple tales of generosity, from Kiama High School donating its milk fridge, to resident celebrity Rodney Keft, aka Rodney Rude, offering a neighbouring vacant block for use as the store's car park.

"We are really moving forward now," third-generation proprietor Trevor Fredericks said.

"The first two days we were just moving backward at a rapid rate, we were in shock and despair about what had happened.

"By the time we had decided to go ahead with a temporary shop, it just meant to us we were doing something positive and trying to resurrect what we had lost and what the town had lost.

"The response from the town people today is just fantastic, the response at the working bee was just incredible. We had people here from all parts of the town doing things we didn't even ask to do; it has been inspirational."

The store reopened yesterday with just the basics, but in doing so gave a feeling of what a general store in Jamberoo would have been like in days gone by.

"This is actually a really nice building," Mr Fredericks said. "There are some practicalities to work through, but the space is generous and in a couple of weeks we will have on offer here probably three-quarters of what we had in the old store."

The cause of the fire and the immediate fate of the gutted building remain unknown.

Leaving the new store yesterday, many of the locals, particularly the elderly, expressed their gratitude that they would not have to make the long trip to Kiama or Albion Park for their basic groceries.

Next door, Jamberoo pub owner Ross Warren said the difference from Monday morning - when half the street was in tears - to yesterday, was amazing.

"It is a great achievement and actually makes good use of what was an empty building," Mr Warren said. "This could have been a massive blow for the town after it lost its service station and doctor, and with the bowling club struggling.

"But this shows you what you can achieve with guts and determination and a large amount of community support.

"They have done one helluva job."

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