Shopkeeper shares 30 years of memories

“You can come to Mr Ally’s shop, with R20 and make a pot of food,” says a loyal customer as shop owner Ally Rahiem rings up her items, perched on a black stool at the entrance to Beacon Spices and Fresh Produce Shop in Trampoline Street, Beacon Valley.

It’s shortly after noon; an alchemy of spices fills the air as the shop buzzes with customers buying odds and ends for tonight’s supper.

“R5 Vodacom airtime, asseblief Mr Ally,” says another customer. The ka-ching of the till goes off again.

While tending to his many customers, Mr Rahiem, 66, says the shop was opened in September 1987. “I was running my uncle’s shop in Woodlands before I opened my own store. I was initially at shop number seven; next door but due to an electrical shortage, the premises burnt to the ground. I lost everything. I was shocked when I arrived at the shop at midnight and saw it in flames.”

Since August 2011, Mr Rahiem, has been at shop number eight and he has experienced his fair share of challenges.

In the past five years there have been two armed robberies at the business. “The shop was targeted in January 2015, on a Tuesday at 5.30pm. Seven suspects, carrying guns, robbed us at gunpoint and got away with R7 000, but luckily nobody was hurt,” he says.

The shop was hit again in April last year, at close to 5pm, when six men came into the shop with guns and pushed customers to the back.

“I was shocked but more worried about the safety of my customers,” he recalls.

The robbers got away with
R6 500 but nobody was hurt.

“Nowadays I have beefed up my security and my staff are with me when I open the shop each day,” he says. Mr Rahiem tells the Plainsman he has lived in Pelican Park since 1987, before a customer asks: “Hoeveel is die eiers?”

“R40,” he replies. Then he continues, explaining how passionate he is about the community. “I do outreach work here but I don’t want to publicise it.”

Economically, says Mr Rahiem, the tide has turned and he now has to compete with a shop on just about every street corner. “The business ideology has changed, however, incurring interest remains the biggest killer. My father taught me that if you cannot buy an item cash then you cannot afford it. These esidents don’t know how to save their money. That is their biggest problem. They also frequently resort to impulse buying,” he says.

Mr Rahiem describes his wife Soogra, with whom he has two sons, as his “pillar of strength”.

“She buys all the stock from various wholesalers in Rylands, Epping and Philippi.

She is invaluable to the success of the business.”

Commenting on the crime and socio-economic challenges residents in the area face, Mr Rahiem says people need to realise that “99 percent” of the people in Beacon Valley are good.

“Only one percent of them are bad apples engaging in anti-social behaviour. You can take me out of Beacon Valley but you can’t take the Beacon Valley out of me.”

And Mr Rahiem praises the many grandparents and parents who raise children in the community. “We have fantastic caregivers but our children are disrespectful and disobedient. I shudder to think what their fate will be when their caregivers pass away.”

He has also encouraged teenagers working for him part-time to complete their matric. “Many of them have and some have visited to tell me how well they are doing professionally,” he says.

Morgenster resident Nariman Davids, who has been visiting the shop for more than 27 years, says Mr Rahiem caters for the poor and needy. “If customers are short on money and an item costs R10 he will allow them to pay what they have. He is a very good man,” she says.

As a customer walks out of the shop; bound for a bustling Trampoline Street, she fondly says: “Goeie mense lewe lank!”