There are some rivalries that are as old as time itself- or, at least, as old as the Bi-Lo rebranding.
Capulet vs Montague. Dogs vs Cats. Big Coles vs Shit Coles. These are some of history’s greatest rivalries, the things that divided mankind the most. But one of these things is not like the other. Unlike many other notorious feuds, the dual Coles of Northcote Plaza is shrouded in mystery. Theories circle these two supermarkets the way crows circle death. The people want definitive answers, but Northcote Plaza refuses to give up its carefully-kept secrets.
The smaller Coles, lovingly referred to as “Shit Coles”, lacks the standard Coles deli, bakery and liquor shop. It is the spot that locals love to hate, and sat adjacent to Northcote Plaza’s Kmart until Kmart chose not to renew the lease after 40 years- yet another mystery. A shopping centre without a Kmart feels terribly out of place, especially one that can sustain two Coles supermarkets. Locals’ pleas to turn the ex-Kmart into a third Coles have, thus far, been ignored.
The larger of the two Coles has a deli, bakery, and more variety in general- yet it, too, has gained its fair share of naysayers. It feels out of place in the perennially scruffy Northcote Plaza. It is too boujee, too fancy, too well-lit. The larger size made it difficult to speedrun your grocery shop. Shit Coles is a safe space, a place where Northcote Plaza still feels like Northcote Plaza. An emotional support Coles, if you will. After all, a fancy Coles has no place in a dilapidated time capsule that still has a CD store.
Additionally, not-shit Coles is only open 7 am-9 pm while Shit Coles boats opening hours from 6 am until midnight.
One resident was quoted saying “It’s all very confusing if you ask me but, by golly, everyone has their preferred Coles, that’s for sure. It’s fierce rivalry between the two.”
Let’s explore some of the theories as to why these two Coles supermarkets exist under one roof, similar but separate entities.
To keep Woolies out
Some theories suggest that Coles placed two supermarkets under the same roof to ensure there was no room for Woolworths. Perhaps Northcote Plaza is the antithesis to Karingal Hub, which previously housed two Woolworths and no Coles.
Keeping a competitor from opening in the same shopping centre means that shoppers are forced to shop at Coles. Thus, Coles has a monopoly on the residents of Northcote.
A feud between the co-owners of Northcote Plaza
Another theory is that two separate people own Northcote Plaza, and they had a falling out, resulting in a decision that the parents in The Parent Trap would admire- to split the centre in half. Each of these owners wanted a Coles.
The boring truth
Theories shared on the Northcote Plaza appreciation page on Facebook may not be backed up by evidence, but they are equally as valid as the more widespread theories. One resident believes that they need a spare Coles in case someone drives a car through one. Another theorises that one supermarket stocks right Twix while the other stocks left.
Unfortunately, there’s a pretty simple reason why Northcote Plaza has two Coles. And it is spectacularly boring. Are you ready for it?
It’s because one used to be a Bi-Lo, and when Wesfarmers took over the brand, they turned all the Bi-Lo stores into Coles. It is still a mystery why, many years after the rebrand, they still haven’t removed the second Coles. But hey, it’s Northcote Plaza. We’re shocked that it isn’t still called Bi-Lo.
Maybe Northcote Plaza knows that it’s dual Coles is one of the things that makes them unique, and changing it would be detrimental for their brand. No matter the reason, the dual Coles brings people together in a way that nothing else does.