Serving people and giving them the best possible is part and parcel of Gordon Mazibuko’s DNA. This week, his passion for customer satisfaction was realised with the opening of his first full-fledged retail story, Joy Market, situated in London City Avenue, Barcelona, an area of Etwatwa on Johannesburg’s East Rand, the result of a partnership with Pick n Pay’s Market Store programme.
Gordon runs Joy Market Store with his wife and business partner, Tabisa, herself no stranger to the customer service frontlines. Both Gordon and Tabisa followed careers as airline cabin crew members which brought them together and saw them begin their journey into retail starting a small side business buying and selling clothing, dotting across the world to bring international styles to South Africans at affordable prices.
“We would pick up exclusive clothing at bargain prices during our travels, be it during the annual January sales in London or Black Fridays in New York. Then we would bring it back to South Africa and friends and family would support us. Word got out from then on and our client base expanded,” says Mazibuko, remembering his international travels as a cabin crew member for South Africa’s national airline more than 20 years ago and taking leisure time out in between flights to and from South Africa to hunt for good deals they could bring home.
The side-line venture soon began a full-time business and Mazibuko immersed himself in running it, giving up his ‘high-flying’ career to follow his dream. Like all start-ups, the business had its good and bad moments and the economic recession in 2008 brought it to a close. Mazibuko was quick to take up other opportunities within the service sector, which he says helped grow his knowledge on how best to run a customer-facing business. Most out-standing saying Mazibuko was time spent as a Restaurant Training Coordinator for one of the country’s largest quick-service and casual dining restaurant franchisor. “I enjoyed it immensely learning about the importance of food hygiene and paying attention to detail when handling, and how running a food business depends on the systems and controls put in place.”
Mazibuko has integrated his vast experience and past learnings into his new business, Joy Market Store, the first of its kind in Etwatwa, where before community members had to travel as far as Daveyton, close to 5 kilometres away, for their essentials. “There’s a lot of excitement amongst locals about the new store and the convenience that it now offers them. We are looking forward to serving them and their needs as best as possible,” says Mazibuko.
Critically, the store has provided employment opportunities in a community wracked by unemployment. “Joy Market Store employs 15 people, the biggest number for any local small business in the area. That is 15 people who previously had little or no source of income who have new hope and their family members will also benefit,” says Mazibuko.
Joy Market Store was converted from a tavern and mini-hardware store and now offers a full retail service to customers including extensive grocery lines, perishables and some general merchandise, a liquor store, and Pick n Pay’s value-added services such as airtime and data, pre-paid electricity and lotto sales.
The full range of Smart Shopper benefits will also be available to customers of Joy Market Store.
As with the other new businesses, Joy’s Market will benefit from support offered by Pick n Pay, including IT infrastructure, store signage, as well as operational and logistics support. employee uniforms tailored business mentoring and advice from Pick n Pay.
“Joy Market, like other market stores, allows for neighbourhood convenience, one of the fastest growing grocery retail formats in the world. It’s a perfect partnership between our large-scale retail know-how and capability in terms of our supply chains and buying systems and the intimate knowledge of the store owner who is immersed within the community and understands the community’s needs best. It’s bringing world class convenience to people who previously did not have access to this,” says Leon de Lange, head of Market Stores, Pick n Pay.