Corner store defies trends

Barry McQueen from Baz and Shaz’s corner store in Suffolk Park is busy as usual and the business continues to flourish.
Barry McQueen from Baz and Shaz’s corner store in Suffolk Park is busy as usual and the business continues to flourish. Blainey Woodham

IF THE death knell is sounding for the Aussie corner store, it's not being heard at Shaz & Baz's place at Suffolk Park.

While national media were yesterday mourning the death of the "mum and dad" corner store - announced by the Andrew Reitzer, chief executive of grocery distributor and convenience store operator Metcash - Sharon and Barry McQueen, daughter Danielle and son-in-law Luke Joyce were run off their feet.

Shaz & Baz is the exception to the rule, if Mr Reitzer - described yesterday by one commentator as having a reputation as a "shrewd and tough operator" - is right.

Mr Reitzer said the price war between Coles and Woolworths was killing the corner store, as he announced his company would shut down 15 stores and sack close to 500 people.

"The unbranded corner store, once they join a brand like Foodworks or 7-Eleven or IGA Express, then they're part of a buying group and they get lower prices and deals, but a stand-alone corner store I don't think has a future," he was reported as saying.

That's clearly not the case at Shaz & Baz. So what do Sharon and Barry McQueen know that the head of Metcash doesn't?

The answer boils down to service and an effort to keep prices as low as possible.

"Ninety per cent of our customers we know by name," Mrs McQueen said.

She credited strong community support for the store's success. However, there were other elements helping out - like listening and trying to meet customers' product requests and trying to source local produce.

Over 12 years of trading, first at the Beaches of Byron caravan park store and then at Suffolk, that had helped them develop a range of products that, in some cases, couldn't be found at Coles or Woolies.

Topics:  shaz & baz's place, supermarket



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