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Wouldn't life be great if we could just take all our problems to Bunnings?

Opinion

Its been everything from a refuge to a source of inspiration during the pandemic, so why shouldn’t everyone’s favourite hardware store play its part in healing the world, writes Madonna King

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A snag and jab at Bunnings? Why not?

If the aim is to vaccinate all Australians, Bunnings is the answer. Forget toilet paper; that rush was so 2020. This year, it’s Bunnings.

A looming lockdown, and the queue into Bunnings car park, shows how we’ve all learned to DIY (boosting Bunnings sales by a whopping 20 percent in the first half of the year).

And then, early on, when exposure sites were listed in detail, we could track the shopping through Bunnings. In one case, a COVID-positive shopper had been to a handful of Bunnings, just to find the right barbecue.

Now, having been a drawcard during looming lockdowns and having played host to suspected COVID cases, Bunnings is now lending its carpark to advance science.

Onions on top of the sausage or underneath? And while you decide, you’ve been jabbed and not felt a thing.

For the uninitiated – and there might still be a few – don’t expect too much out of the sausage in a sandwich. It’s a sausage in bread, with a few rings of onion. That’s all. Oh, and sauce can be an extra.

The Lions Club learnt early on the value of a Saturday morning sizzle outside the $13 billion a year retailer. And so have community organisations and charities and even schools; a morning outside Bunnings can fill the coffers in a more than a modest way.

It hasn’t always been easy for the retail giant. Remember Karen? Bunnings Karen? She’s become a meme for bad-mannered mothers the nation over. (I’m reliably informed that entitled daughters of Karen are now unfairly labelled Mias – but that’s for another day).

But during a pandemic where everything – from schools to jobs and holidays, public transport and hobbies – have been turned on their head, Bunnings has become a national treasure.

It’s become the new Saturday and Sunday church service. We’ve all become handymen and women, with the sale of hardware, building and garden supplies booming. Unable to travel, we’re turning the backyard into a resort, putting new hangings on the wall, and finally tending to that garden.

But at the centre of that is a new sense of community, perhaps, with the red and green recognisable as a brand in the way the yellow and red of McDonald’s had our children asking for chicken nuggets before they could utter whole sentences.

So why not use it to advantage more than those lining up for a snag and a jab on the weekend?

What else could we do to ensure Bunnings delivers real results?

How about an Australian Electoral Commission stand, where 18-year-olds can sign up ready for the next federal poll?

Or JPs on duty, to sign all that stuff that has us posting, late on Facebook regularly, ‘does anyone know a JP?’

How about a book exchange, where all those tomes we’ve read during lockdown can find a new home, and we can nab one too. Perhaps the Lifeline Book Fest could trial the Bunnings car park as a venue?

A pop up bar, where you learn to brew your own beer? Local neighbourhood watch groups recruiting new members?

Local MPs could meet us there, rather than knocking on the door late of a Sunday afternoon forcing us to pretend we’re not home.

Over a sausage and soft drink, and newly-jabbed, we could hold some of those activities that COVID-19 restrictions have stopped, even in Queensland.

Monday afternoon, in an open-air theatre, the schools’ debating competitions could fire up. Scouts could also crank up a recruitment drive, each Tuesday, and offer marshmallows and s’mores for an after-sausage dessert. Wednesday, the schools’ chess competition could be played out under blue skies.

Bunnings could do a deal with IKEA, and a flat-pak installation pop-up could really drive business. School children, unable to sing Happy Birthday indoors out loud this year could scream it, as loud as they liked.

And on Friday night, schools who have missed semi-formals or formals could take to the car park, under the stars, in dresses and suits that have cost their parents a lot more than a new rake or shovel.

COVID-19 has taken so much away from us. Perhaps Bunnings, and a touch of innovation, could gift much of it back.

This Saturday’s pop-up vaccination clinics could be just the start.

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