Locals flock to the leafy southside suburb of Isaacs to make use of the beautiful cycling and walking trails full of lush pine forests and views over the Brindabella Range. But when it comes to amenities, the suburb has long been lacking in a vibrant local retail district. The infrastructure is there but aside from a handful of successful accounting offices the shops mainly lay vacant.
For over four years the largest of the sites has been bare, crying out for a small supermarket to serve the area. A family of entrepreneurial siblings saw the opportunity and has opened an IGA X-Press Plus Liquor store in the space with hopes that it will be the tipping point to revitalise the area and breathe life into the Isaacs shops.
Ahmad Mufti and his brother Aahed head the in-store operations with their other siblings providing business administration and accounting behind the scenes.
“We were all raised in a way where we openly shared our ideas and opinions. We had the idea of starting our new business for the past five years. We always had a passion to build something together as a family and have had years of experience in various retail management and operation positions,” Ahmad told Region Media.
“From experience, we’ve found that retail can offer some of the most valuable life experiences. It would seem that almost every customer that walks into our store is an opportunity for us to learn valuable life lessons. I mean, who ordinarily has the opportunity to meet hundreds of people a day?”
Collectively they all saw the potential in being a part of the foundation to establish Isaacs shops as an integral, and they hope much loved, part of the suburb and surrounding O’Malley community.
They are also filling the gap by providing the convenience of a local supermarket and liquor store that can be agile and flexible in catering to specific local needs.
“We had to make a decision as to who we would banner the store with. There are plenty of brand names out there but being local Canberrans and knowing that people love to support the locals, we made an executive decision to partner with IGA. In our opinion, IGA was the best fit as they support local producers and have great local community initiatives,” Ahmad said.
In the short time they have been open, the brothers have been talking to and getting to know the locals that come in, listening to what they are looking for in a supermarket and adjusting accordingly.
So far, along with standard grocery items, ready-made meals by local providers have been added to shelves along with freshly baked artisan bread. The overwhelming response from locals so far has been gratitude to finally have a ‘local store’.
“We had originally planned to commence operations in late January 2020. However, the emergence of COVID-19 impacted our grocery supply chain as well as local producers. Therefore, it took much longer to set up the store than anticipated. Our official opening was on the 15th of April 2020.”
“It is definitely a strange time to open a new business and there are certainly some challenges ahead,” Ahmad said.
“Whilst our business is all about helping our locals, many of whom are elderly, we must do so while maintaining some additional health and safety precautions. In this aspect, IGA has been very supportive in custom-designing layouts and placing floor markings throughout the store.”
IGA X-Press Isaacs Plus Liquor store is located at Shop 1, 6 Farr Place, Isaacs.