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Here’s to good: Redfern Convenience Store

There are thousands of convenience stores wrapping the street corners of Australia’s towns and cities. But there’s only one Redfern Convenience Store, the ‘Greatest Redfern Convenience Store on Earth’.

It’s the vision of Hazem Sedda who took over running the store from his dad, some 20 years ago. The store sells the usual staples like milk and bread, but it’s the international lollies and cereals it sells (think, Lucky Charms from the US, Milka chocolate from Germany and Valentina Salsa Picante from Mexico) that make it to his cult-status Instagram feed.

“When customers ask me about a product they can’t find in Australia, I’ll do anything to make that happen to them,” Hazem says. “Their smile when they see I’ve managed to stock their product – that’s my pay, that’s all I care about, is just to see them as happy and excited, and enjoying their time.”

Hazem started the store’s Instagram account on the recommendation of his friend, media personality Ben Fordham. At the time, the social media platform was just taking off. After posting a few images of the store, Hazem ran out of things to post.

“And then I thought about posting my local customers with the products they buy and share their story for the day,” Hazem says. “We called it Customer of the Day.”

Soon, locals and people from across the city were clamouring to become Customer of the Day to feature on the Instagram page.

“And then people started to come from far, far away to be Customer of the Day. So I become a destination for people,” Hazem says.

It has become so popular, the City of Sydney council has listed the convenience store as a ‘place to go’. To cater for the local, interstate and international crowds, Redfern Convenience Store expanded to take over an additional shop space next door.

It’s not the Internet fame Hazem is most proud of, though.

“It’s seeing the joy and happiness on my customers’ faces,” he says.

“It makes me so happy to see that I put smiles on people's faces. Everyone loves what we’ve done for the community by turning it into a place where people welcome each other and know each other,” Hazem says.

“But being in Redfern for 20 years, I’ve seen people when they were just one year old and now they’re 19 and 20. We know each other’s name and story.

“That’s what community is all about.”