Get to know Annie Bassingthwaighte

Annie Bassingthwaighte (right) doesn't know what she would do without her shop. Photo: Rebecca Hewson.

Annie Bassingthwaighte (right) doesn't know what she would do without her shop. Photo: Rebecca Hewson.

In your own words describe your business? I have a retail business that has gifts and kitchenware. We also have baby items and nighties and heaps of things here.

How long have you been in business? 19 years.

What inspired you to open your business? When I came to Young as tourism manager with Young Shire Council which I did for 8 years, I was a very good customer and Jane Bargwanna, Joe's daughter, had the business then and she was a Ms Australia.

Because I was such a good customer, one day they said to me 'why don't you buy the business?' So, that's what we did.

Who is someone you admire? I suppose I could say my Father was a retailer, and even though I grew up never ever thinking I'd be a retailer, maybe I was inspired by his career.

He was actually a director of David Jones, he was in charge of women's fashion for David Jones Australia, so he travelled all over the world and he bought Cartier and Emilio Pucci among others to Australia for David Jones.

I grew up as an only child, I was a surfy chick and every night I'd hear my father say I did this and I did that and he actually had all of the high end fashion for David Jones in those days.

Not ever thinking that I'd be a retailer and my father said things to me like 'the customer is always first, not necessarily right.'

I'm a retailers daughter so I think that may have been instilled in me as a young woman.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a checkout chick at Coles. I was a surfy chick, I grew up with all these boys and they had twin carburetors in their 1944 Rolls Royce convertible and we'd go to the beach with our surf boards out the back.

I always wanted to be a checkout chick at Coles.

Annie Bassingthwaighte.

What did you do before you started your business? Before I came to be married I worked for the managing directors of Westfield, which was a huge job and fabulous. I have always been a secretary and done secretarial jobs. When I left school I did a secretarial course and I worked for a patent attorney, I worked for a stock broker, I worked for different kinds of business.

Then I came to the district and I actually started work in Cootamundra running the Business Enterprise Centre which I ran for 14 years.

Then I cam to Young as tourism manager for 8 (years) and the Cherry Festival was huge and all the meetings and then when they approached me about the business I thought, well I love this shop and what we did was we were down next to The Loft, where Full Moon Magic were, and we were there a year and then I moved it up here and more than tripled the stock.

What advice do you have for other local businesses? I think one of the main things about being in business is you have to have some money behind you.

Once you've paid for the stock, which is a big thing in itself, you've got to pay rent, you've got to pay electricity, then you've got advertising, you've got so many other costs.

If you're going into business and you've got nothing behind you, it's really a struggle. I was so fortunate because when we had the lockdown I'd actually saved a bit of money so I could actually pay all my bills and that's really important.

I always try and consider other people's feelings and I also really believe in service and I really believe in treating people as you would like to be treated yourself and show respect and humility.

Do you have any plans for the future? I'd like to keep working if I can. I'm 77, so I'm not a young chick anymore but I really love the business.

When I was locked down, I haven't spent seven days at home for 30 years, so I found that really hard.

I love the people, this is really the most fabulous town and community and I've got wonderful girls who help me in the shop and that's very important and I always try and treat my staff as I would like to be treated and consider their feelings.

Who is your biggest supporter? My husband.

Do you have any thoughts on what could help local businesses? People coming in the door. I think what has happened since the pandemic is I've had a lot of people come to me and say 'are you alright?'

All the retailers around me check on me. People now are very aware of shopping locally and I think that's really imperative because so many of the retailers in Victoria and Queensland and Sydney will probably never ever recover.

It is very hard being locked down because as I say you've got all of those stock costs and you've still got to pay your overheads.

If someone wants to go into business it is imperative they have some money behind them because if you haven't got that back up, if I hadn't have saved that money I wouldn't have been able to pay my bills and I always pay my bills on time, I hate owing money.

I think we are very lucky in Young to have such a strong retail sector with a huge diversity of product.

Since the pandemic though, people are much more aware of supporting their local businesses and that's imperative.

What are your hobbies, interests etc? Well, I love cooking and I love antiques, I like to read, I don't get a lot of time to read. I do like to garden, but I don't like to be in it all the time. No sports, not at all sporty. I like to go on holidays with my husband of 48 years.

I really love my shop and I'd really love to keep going so hopefully my girls will continue to support me in the shop for staff.

I'm very lucky, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have my shop.

Annie B's Full House can be found at 102 Boorowa St. Phone 6382 5970 and visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/anniebs.fullhouse