When Ron Taffa opened his hardware store on a prominent corner of a rapidly developing suburb in Sydney’s north west, he really nailed the location.
As a result, his business became – quite literally – part of the fabric of the area, providing the building materials for many of the homes going up at the time, and ever since.
With the landmark shop finally closing 64 years later, at the very end of 2019, the West Ryde site is now being sold with the hope that the next business, or collection of businesses, that inhabits it will be just as treasured as his store became.
“It was amazing when we closed down,” said Anthony Taffa, 51, son of the late entrepreneur who died in December 2018. Along with his sister Julianne, 47, he’s been running the shop that became Taffa’s Mitre 10 in 1980.
“We had so many people come through and say their grandparents used to do their shopping there, and then their parents after them, and now they did. It was incredible. They were thanking us for being such a great community service, and for everything we had done, and a couple of customers were in tears.”
The 403-square-metre site at 1 Chatham Road – with 390 square metres of space on the ground floor and an extra 100 square metres on its mezzanine level – has three street frontages over 52 metres, that make it a standout location for any business. Known locally as “Taffa’s Corner”, it goes for auction on March 12 with a price guide of about $4.5 million.
Agent Peter Vines of Ray White Commercial NSW says it was “a bit of an icon in the local area. But like any small business, it’s hard to survive in competition with the big businesses like Bunnings who can monopolise the market across a lot of stores.
“This is such a prominent corner, with a lot of traffic coming past and a Woolworths behind it and a Coles and the station. We’ve had a lot of inquiry already from both owner-occupiers and investors.”
There is a strong Korean demographic in the suburb, and Mr Vines says it would be perfect for Asian grocery stores, and maybe a smaller restaurant. Other uses could be for gyms or a showroom of some sort.
A change in zoning in the future might make a residential development on the site possible, but the existing floor-space ratios at the moment mightn’t make that a commercial possibility, said Mr Vines.
“It’s quite a narrow building, and you’d have to amalgamate other properties to do that properly,” he added.
Since Taffa’s Hardware’s start in 1955, it provided a huge volume of building materials to West Ryde and the broader Ryde community, helping it grow into the vibrant suburb it is today.
The Taffas were always very community-minded too, and sponsored local football and cricket teams, and donated merchandise to local schools and community groups to help them raise money for various charities and organisations.
“It’s been a wonderful 64 years, but times have now changed and local community desires have changed too,” said Anthony Taffa, who started work at the shop to help his father at the age of 15 in his school holidays, and has been working full-time there since 1993.
“It’s very much part of our family history so closing the business and selling it are difficult things, but we have to move with the times. It’s amazing how many people built their homes with what my father sold them, and their response when they heard we were going was very touching.”
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