Nigel Squibb and John Whitley behind the counter of the Maidenwell Trading Post.
Nigel Squibb and John Whitley behind the counter of the Maidenwell Trading Post. Madeline Grace

Big changes ahead for Maidenwell Trading Post duo

AFTER turning the Maidenwell Trading Post around in only 16 months, Nigel Squibb and John Whitley may be moving on to something even bigger in the South Burnett.

"John and I are leaving this shop on the 19th of May,” Mr Squibb said.

"We are saddened and heartbroken by this. We just love this area so much and I really think that shows through everything we have done and the substantial amount of money we have invested into the community through this place.”

But The Sauce Man pair has another big idea in the works.

"We're in the process of buying a property just up the Bunya Mountain Rd,” Mr Whitley said.

"With the intention to create a bit of a destination venue, you know a bit like what we've done here with Maidenwell Trading Post,” Mr Squibb said.

"Here we've only got one acre. On our new place we'll have 78.3 acres to play with.

"The plan so far is to build a Sauce Man production factory, to start a cooking school, an entertainment and concert venue, an endurance motorbike trail, a local western riding group with facilities for barrel racing and so on, and also eventually put together some accommodation facilities.”

Both men said they had been excited to share their plans with the South Burnett community.

"We've had a questionnaire at our front counter for maybe the last six months now, just to help us get an idea of what our local community is looking for and what is lacking,” Mr Squibb said.

"We're going to do our very best to respond to as many of those as we possibly can,” Mr Whitley said.

The pair wants to fill a gap in the region for the locals and tourists.

"Yes this is a big project. But we're so excited and we can't wait to one day be able to bring up to four concerts to the South Burnett every year,” Mr Squibb said.

"We're talking Aussie rock, classic rock, rock, old-school country, new modern country, maybe even some pop music or that screaming metal stuff people seem to like.”

"Now this has all come about because we cannot buy this store,” Mr Whitley said.

Mr Squibb and Mr Whitley wanted to purchase the Maidenwell Trading Post since taking over the lease 16 months ago.

"No banks will end on it. It's too high-risk,” Mr Squibb said.

"We've been trying to purchase it for the past 16 months, so since we've been here. And instead we've been knocked back by over eight banks, both local community banks and the big boys.

"Don't get too worried though. We've found a replacement for when we piss off. And we've been mentoring her for the last three months now.”

Even though they plan to leave the store, they will be leaving behind their legacy.

"As far as we're concerned, the South Burnett community just cannot lose this place. It means so much to us and does so much for our community,” Mr Squibb said.

"We're going to re-offer to buy this place on Monday (March 25) so that could potentially change everything.

Mr Squibb said the pair had a meeting with a bank that had already knocked them back three times.

"It's really annoying and kinda hurts. I just don't understand it. And honestly, if we can't buy this place probably no-one ever will,” he said.

"Up until only last week we went without rain for six months. That certainly affects everything, especially this. It makes it even more high-risk.

"We're just going to keep putting out good vibes and hope for the best on Monday. Either way, what will happen will happen, and we have big plans for either outcome.”