The owner of Redfern Convenience Store, Hazem Sedda, has spent more than 20 years transforming an unassuming corner store into a community hub, social media sensation and tourist destination. Now, for the first time, he’s attempting to replicate his success with a second store set to open August 24 in Newtown.
All 5000 of Redfern Convenience Store’s products, ranging from Skittles-flavoured fairy floss and scorpion candy to chocolate churros cereal, will be available at the new store at 137 King Street.
The second location, which will retain the moniker Redfern Convenience Store despite being in a different suburb, was a serendipitous purchase for Sedda and his family. It was the same convenience store that first employed Sedda’s father, Ali Ata, when he moved from Palestine to Australia in 2000.
“He didn’t know anything about Australia, he didn’t speak English and he didn’t have any work experience, but they gave him a job at that store,” Sedda says.
Sedda’s father only worked there a few months before opening Redfern Convenience Store in 2001, but the experience left a lasting impression.
“Dad never stopped telling me how good the Newtown store was. How they could sell more than what I sell, do better than I do,” Sedda says.
“Anything I would do, he would tell me that the Newtown store would do better. He really loved that store.”
Sedda kept an eye on the progress of the Newtown store, watching as it went from one of Australia’s top sales outlets to one of its worst. And then, when the store began losing money, Sedda stepped in and bought it.
“It was my ultimate challenge,” he says.
Sedda announced the expansion plans over Instagram, where his customer portraits and long, heartfelt captions have attracted upwards of 30,000 followers. Many had become aware of Redfern Convenience Store at the height of the COVID pandemic, when Sedda gave out free toilet paper and ensured a steady supply of reasonably priced RAT tests.
It remains one of his proudest moments.
“We were behind the community. Whatever they needed, we did whatever it takes to get it to them,” Sedda says. “That is when we became an icon of Redfern.”
The public display of community support created a fan base stretching far beyond Sydney. These followers buy Redfern Convenience Store merchandise (some collecting each new T-shirt as it drops), make frequent online orders, and message Sedda asking him to open additional locations across the country.
Sedda hopes to recreate a similar customer experience in Newtown, sourcing hard-to-find products from all over the world, appealing to customers’ nostalgia with lollies from their childhood, and blasting his song, The Greatest Convenience Store on Earth (released in June with Redfern artist Jesse wtf and former X Factor contestant Barry Conrad).
“People who visit our store don’t just come in, buy one thing and leave. On average, they spend between 30 and 45 minutes going through the products we have and enjoying the atmosphere.
“It’s like how sometimes you go to a nice restaurant, not necessarily because of the food, but because you feel good while you’re there.”
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