18 April 2023

Blooms' Adel Rebellato looks back at 55 years in Griffith pharmacy

| Oliver Jacques
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Adel Rebellato behind the counter in uniform

Adel Rebellato recalls listening to the moon landing’s radio coverage while she was at work. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Region has been profiling Griffith’s unsung heroes – those who have had long-term careers for the town’s iconic businesses but have rarely received public recognition for their loyalty and devotion to customer service.

Today, we place the spotlight on Italian migrant Adel Rebellato, who has spent 55 years working in a pharmacy that has had five different owners. In 1968, she started as a 16-year-old at Lloyd’s Area Pharmacy and remains employed at Blooms The Chemist today at age 71.

What do you recall of your early days, moving from Italy to Griffith in the 1950s?

I was born in northern Italy in 1951 and we migrated to Griffith in 1959. I went to Hanwood Catholic School, which was run by nuns and doesn’t exist anymore. When I came to Australia, we didn’t speak any English. That was hard, and we got teased a bit, but us kids picked up the language quickly. Mum and Dad didn’t speak English. When they got sick, I would go along to the doctors and be the interpreter.

READ ALSO ‘The town’s mum’: Griffith’s longest-serving waitress reflects on 43 years in the job

When did you start your career in pharmacy?

My first job was straight out of school at Lloyd’s Area Pharmacy, which was owned by Norm Lloyd. We were situated next to the Area Hotel. I was there for a few years before the business was taken over by Ron and Keith Parker and then Gino Musumeci. All up, I’ve worked for five different bosses.

Do any special moments stand out from your early years?

I remember we were all in the original store and crammed around the radio in 1969 to listen to when man first landed on the moon. It was exciting and something really different. Back then, we didn’t have a TV.

How has working in a chemist’s store changed from then to now?

When I started, decimal currency had not long been introduced. Everything was done on pen and paper. It was then a far cry from today’s world, relying so much on cellphones and computers.

Back then, people were very shy and sometimes awkward [when getting sensitive items], but nowadays they confidently go to the shelf and just get what they want.

It’s sad in a way that customer service in today’s world does not seem to be as important as in the good old days.

Overall, it was different. It was much more easygoing than today. People aren’t quite as friendly as they were back then.

Banna Avenue shot from 1984

Gino’s Area Pharmacy on Banna Avenue in 1984. Photo: Australia Land of Many Dreams.

How do you handle difficult customers?

We try and make them more comfortable and get to the bottom of the problem. Things can always be fixed.

READ ALSO ‘Our crystal ball’: Dennis Duvey celebrates 60th year at Griffith John Deere supplier

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in the industry?

Have respect for the customers. They’re always our first priority, they pay our wages – without them, we wouldn’t be there.

Any plans for retirement?

Not yet. I used to work full time but now I do three days a week. I’ll probably do another year or two and then see what happens.

Blooms The Chemist, at 222 Banna Avenue, is open seven days a week.

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