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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Chincogan Store has found its new owner

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New owners Ben Eglington and Leanne Crampon with the departing proprietor Karen Barnham and her grand-daughter Mia. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Aslan Shand

It had to be the right person who was going to buy Mullumbimby’s iconic Chincogan Store. In fact Karen and Colin Barnham, who have owned and run the store for the last 13 years, almost sold the store on three different occasions when they realised that the people buying it just weren’t the right fit for Mullum. So it is with great excitement that Karen and Col have finally sold the Chincogan Store to local boy Ben Eglington.

‘I think we have finally found the right people,’ said Karen happily.

‘He’s lovely and will basically keep it the same.’

Ben grew up in Byron, went to Byron High, and did his cheffing apprenticeship at a local restaurant before he headed off to travel the world. He ended up spending four yeas in Florianopolis in Brazil before heading back to the familiar shores of Australia.

‘Florianopolis is at the same latitude as Byron Bay,’ laughed Ben.

‘So it is good surf and good weather just like Byron.’

Having worked around the world including the Hyatt on the Gold Coast, Ben finally gave up his cheffing ways when his 16-month-old son was born, and headed into the retail market.

‘I discovered I really enjoy chatting to people and getting out of the kitchen,’ he said,  admitting that the hours were generally friendly for bringing up a family.

After mentioning the possibility of buying the Chincogan Store to his mum, who lives in Federal, she was quick to let him know that there were other people who were looking at buying the store.

‘I went in and asked Karen if there was anyone else enquiring to buy the store and she said there had been a little old lady in there recently asking about it.’

It didn’t take them too long to work out that the other potential buyer was Ben’s mum, who was super keen to have Ben moving back down the coast.

After almost 14 years Karen is happy to be able pass the store into good hands and is looking forward to heading to England to see her grandchildren while Col is keen to get on with ‘playing cows,’ as Karen likes to put it.

‘I love the people who come into the shop,’ enthused Karen.

‘The community have been so supportive of us. A few years ago I shaved my hair off to raise money for cancer research and in just two weeks the community donated $6,500 and each month we raise around $700 in donations towards the Brunswick Rescue squad. The people here are just amazing.’

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