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Blair Morgan - Your Local Grocer

Blair Morgan places bags of groceries into the boot of a woman’s car on a bright winter’s day. They’re on first-name terms and he chats awhile, asking after her family and pets. He takes the shopping trolley and tells her not to worry, he’ll wheel it back to the shop.

It’s this kind of personal service that customers of the Captain Stirling IGA keep coming back for.

Blair Morgan is co-owner and manager of the Captain Stirling IGA on Stirling Hwy. Blair and his brother Tony, who co-owners the store, have long been involved with the supermarket.

Both Blair and Tony worked for the previous owner Rob Thomas while they were studying at university. When Mr Thomas thought about retiring, he contacted the Morgan brothers and asked if they were interested in buying. They were.

By that time, Blair had returned to work at the store, after gaining valuable commercial experience in management and marketing at large companies both in Perth and interstate.

The Captain Stirling Shopping Centre has been operating for more than 60 years and there’s always been a supermarket on the site. It’s had various incarnations over the years – Charlie Carters, Supa Valu, Dewsons, and for the past nine or ten years, an IGA.

Blair arrives pre-dawn every day. While Tony heads off early to the fruit and veg market, Blair sees to the things that just can’t be done during business hours.

“It’s a very early start to the day for both of us – we’re in here by choice because we want to make sure everything looks as beautiful as possible,” said Blair.

The brothers’ respective wives are also involved in the business, selecting the gifts and flowers, and sometimes their children jump on the tills and play at serving customers. It’s very much a family affair.

The supermarket is held in fond regard by its many customers, who have rallied around the brothers in recent times with the upheaval brought on by the recent sale of the shopping centre.

“The community support has been amazing. It is very humbling. I can’t put into words how thankful we are as a family for that support,” said Blair.

Part of the supermarket’s success lies in its long-term staff members. The butchers have been at the IGA for 25 years, Andrew has worked in fruit and veg for 20 years, Sonia has been in the deli for 17 years and George has been in fruit and veg for 10 years.

“You get to know what’s happening in people’s lives, you see kids grow up – there are babies who used to come in who now run around the shop,” said Blair.

“Everyone has seen my kids grow up because they are always in and out of here. It’s the way it should be,” he continued.

Its customers, too, have been loyal.

“There’s a lady who shops here who’s 92 - she can tell you the whole history of the place,” he said.

A job at the Captain Stirling IGA is a bit of a rite of passage for many local teenagers, who work there after school or while they study at university. Working there offers them great experience for their first professional jobs.

There’s also been a fair bit of romance in the aisles - there have been a few marriages among staff members who have met while working there! And who knows, perhaps even some customers have found love while doing their shopping.

Blair says looking after people is the best job he could possibly ask for.

“Old-fashioned service is one thing that won’t change here. We’re here to help, it’s that simple,” he said.

Communities are made up of people and relationships and Blair, Tony and the staff at the Captain Stirling IGA have worked hard to build that sense of community, carrying on a long tradition at the centre.

Faces of Nedlands

Faces of Nedlands

The Faces of Nedlands project was conceived to bring to life the many people who have contributed to the community in Nedlands in various fields.This is a community focused project about people who make Nedlands a great place to live. Over 2015 - 2016, we will profile 12 faces - some familiar, some not so familiar.