‘We will keep on going. God has been good’
2007-05-24 15:40:17 -
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In the latest instalment of Metro Eireann’s Meet The Boss, SANDY HAZEL speaks to Amin Ismail, owner of Super Savers World of Wonder in Clondalkin

Amin Ismail is originally from Tanzania. He has been in Ireland since 1979, one of the first few immigrants at a time when emigration was high. Now an Irish citizen, Ismail had a cousin here who was studying accountancy and who helped him to get started. First off was the Leaving Cert, after which Ismail went to study electronic engineering at Waterford Regional College of Technology and at what is now DIT Kevin Street. Following his studies Ismail investigated the possibilities of going into business, when an opportunity came up to sell at country markets nationwide. 

“I did the country markets for nearly nine years, setting up stalls at various towns throughout Ireland,” he explains. “Monday in Carlow, Tuesday in Athy, Thursday would be Carrickmacross or Roscrea, Friday Navan and Gorey. Saturday was Portlaoise. I had a van that was on hire purchase and off we went.”

A friend had introduced Ismail to the market tradition, and Ismail noticed how so many of the Indians he saw there were dealing in the clothing trade. He decided to do something different, and traded in hardware and fancy goods. 

So how was life on the road? “Getting up at five in the morning it was incredibly hard work,” he remembers, “but everyone has to start somewhere. It was a good way to get to know Ireland and the people.” Getting to know the people included marrying Maria, an Irish woman. They have been married for 25 years. 

Ismail eventually settled down and established a shop on Clondalkin’s Main Street in 1991 – Super Savers World of Wonder. It is a shop that sells everything, from fishing reels to sewing needles to football flags and kitsch mirrors. The shelves are stacked to the roof with hardware and unusual gifts. It’s a handy emporium when some last-minute shopping is required. The husband-and-wife team have since built up a steady business, becoming a well-known fixture of the retail landscape in Clondalkin. 

How does Ismail know what will sell well? “I guess I’m just gifted at predicting a good seller,” he laughs. “I have been buying and selling since I was 12, so you kind of get the knack.” 

So has the merchandising business been good for the Ismails? “Well, Maria and I have raised a family of five children: three girls and twin boys. One daughter is running her own beauty salon in Leicester [in the UK]. One daughter is doing her finals this week for pharmacy at university in Leicester; another is doing her Leaving Certificate next week at school in Lucan. The twins are still at school. So yes, the business has supported a growing and successful family over the years, it has been good to us.”

One major problem for Ismail’s business is caused by shoplifters who regularly try to steal his goods. “But this is also a problem for other retailers, not just me,” he says. “I can see that it has gotten worse in the past few years around here. Clondalkin is suffering.”

Ismail also sees shifts in business patterns: “Twenty-five years ago it was much easier to set up a business than it is now. Overheads are much more substantial. Also, you are competing with more businesses. Although the population has grown in Ireland so has the number of multinationals. Smaller family run businesses like ours are definitely feeling a change. There are so many big retail parks open now on the outskirts of towns that it is harder now for us. But also, the family are growing up and away so the pressure is less too. We will keep on going. God has been good.”
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