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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

The Village Grocer is shutting down

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Moni Jowsey and Ed Ahern

The supermarket near the roundabout in Byron, formerly known as Five Star, Handimarket, Spar Express and more recently as the Village Grocer, is shutting down, and with it a little bit of history, as it’s been run by Ed Ahern, something of an identity around Byron over recent decades. Here Moni Jowsey shares something of the story of Ed Ahern, and the business.
‘Let me take you on a journey, a story of a bright young ambitious business man. As a young surfer with a love for music, Ed chased a beach life dream,’ says Moni. ‘Germinated in the Brisbane suburbs and having gleaned the gifts of confidence, gratitude and good ethics – he soon found a crack in the armour of his religious schooling and jumped the border.’
‘His keen eye for profit led him through property development and the challenge of farming into the wisdom of weather and old-fashioned country-kitchen yield.
‘Byron Bay gained a strong reliable and positive anchor from every investment move made by Edward John Ahern. With respect for others and a sword of honesty he drew on his father’s inheritance early to get ahead in life.
‘He signed up as a tenant on the main roundabout of Byron and put in the convenience-based supermarket: Food Store. Name changes on this site started with Handimart, then Five Star, SPAR and in 2023 it become The Village Grocer.
‘Having operated 24-hours a day, seven days a week this supermarket maintained a solid operation, employing all the local kids, supplying tourists with convenience goods for nearly 30 years. Of course the famous business glitch presented by COVID-19 completely melted this business venture. With attempts to change the stock, offer deliveries, shift the brand and to approach the Chamber of Commerce about the limitations presented by parking fees and a lack of tourism-drive, nothing has offered any traction to shift the commercial reality of being a tenant in the centre of Byron.
‘The land tax landing on the desk of commercial tenants with the swollen property values struck another dud chord, given the scale of debt here. Add to this cocktail interest rates and the riddle of a penalty-loaded payroll – this business had to minimise its trading hours just to survive.

‘The Village Grocer (aka SPAR) is closing its doors with the final day on June 27. Come on in during the last week and say goodbye to the team. Give Ed a friendly, warm farewell and help this page-turn in the book of Byron with a positive, grateful, connected smile for each other. This feels like such an end of an era for the middle of town – pop by and say hi!’

The Village Grocer is at the roundabout, corner of Lawson St and Jonson St, Byron Bay.

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