Update: Following the publication of this article, Altona Coles agreed to let RSL poppy sellers back inside its supermarket.
An Altona RSL poppy seller has been banned from Coles in Pier Street, prompting the club to set up shop inside IGA supermarket.
Many, including Altona Village Traders Association, were outraged that Coles’ decision left regular seller Peter Waters, who uses a wheelchair, only able to sell poppies out in the street.
Altona RSL general manager David Hanson said his club was informed on Monday that Mr Waters would not be able to continue to fundraise for the Poppy Appeal inside the store.
“We’re unsure of the total reasons behind why we’re not able to set up inside at this stage because obviously they’ve been great supporters in the past,” Mr Hanson said.
“We’ve been selling in Coles since I’ve been here – I’ve been here nine years. To my knowledge, it’s always been inside.
“We’ve got a seller in at IGA now as well.
“IGA had spoken to our president and offered us a spot inside there to sell.
“We’re still going to be out the front of Coles.”
Traders’ president Kim Walsh said he believed Coles had made a misguided decision.
“I think it’s totally un-Australian,” he said.
“I would love to give Coles an opportunity to put their hand up and right a wrong – it’s not how we operate.
“No one – no one – is going to give them grief over the fact that they allow a poppy seller from our local RSL inside their store to sell poppies, as has been the tradition for many years.”
A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket chain was committed to supporting the local community.
“Over the past three years, Coles raised $5 million for the Bravery Trust to provide support to current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and their families who have suffered hardship as a result of their service,” she said.
“Our Altona store receives frequent requests from charitable organisations to fundraise at our store and we are very happy for them to set up at the front of our store at a time that suits them.”