Mother Knows Best

Across the country many IGA stores are run by strong and passionate women, who are passing on their knowledge of the family business to the next generation. Here are just some of their stories. From our families to yours, Happy Mother’s Day!

Casandra and Felicity Grigor – proud owners of IGA Glass House Mountains and IGA Landsborough.

Cassandra and Ashley Grigor opened their first supermarket over 12 years ago, looking for an exciting challenge with their three daughters that would connect them with their local community.

Felicity Grigor says: “My sisters and I always worked in our stores on holidays and weekends – it really was and still is a family affair. After going to university, I decided to come back into the business full time about five years ago and haven’t looked back since.

“Whilst it can be challenging working with family, I consider myself so lucky to be able to work alongside and learn from my Mum every single day. Both her and Dad are just so hands on in the business. You’ll never find either of them sitting behind a desk and Mum is constantly helping me to grow and learn so I can better support our staff and community.

“The most important lesson that Mum has taught me is that things don’t happen overnight, and you really have to work hard to learn everything about the business, build positive working relationships and earn respect from your team.

“We are such a close family and Mum and I definitely complement each other – probably because I am so much like my Dad! After recently having my own child, it has made me even more aware of how lucky I am to be able to learn from such an amazing woman.”

Sue and Steph O’Keefe – proud owners of O’Keefe’s IGA Seymour

Sue O’Keefe has been serving the community of Seymour for over 21 years and the entire O’Keefe family pride themselves on providing fresh food, great value and always supporting the locals.

Steph O’Keefe says: “As far back as I can remember Mum has always had the supermarket and I really did spend so many of my formative years in the store. My brothers and I stacked shelves, worked on the checkouts, and helped wherever needed – that is the nature of a family business.

Sue says: “It has been such a pleasure for me to have stood alongside Steph working together full time over the past five years to build this business and look after our local community. Steph energises me with her ideas, brings her own modern approach and I am so proud of her.”

“I lived overseas and moved back to Melbourne and following that move I made the decision to come back to Seymour and support Mum in running the business a few years ago. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

“I have learnt so much from Mum and I really could not have gotten to where I am without her help and the trust that she has in me,” Steph continued. “We use each other as bouncing boards, we celebrate wins and when things do get tough, we navigate them together.

“Both Mum and Dad’s work ethic is unparalleled, and they have taught us to always work hard, strive to be better and to give back, support and provide a better experience for our staff and customers who are more like friends and family.

“I consider myself lucky not only work alongside my mum, but have her as my boss, colleague, mentor, confidant and most importantly, my best friend.”

Jocelyn Lee and Dustin Clarke – proud owners of Exmouth IGA and Ningaloo IGA

Jocelyn Lee opened her first supermarket 19 years ago with her husband Trevor Clarke, relocating 1,200km from Perth to Exmouth in search of a better life for their young family.

Dustin says: “As soon as we were old enough my brother and I worked in the store and one of my best childhood memories growing up is the one treat we were allowed each week. We had a budget and could get anything we wanted in the store, and as kids this was pretty special.

“Given that Exmouth is fairly isolated, with the closest town being about 400km away, I went to boarding school and worked in Perth for a couple of years after finishing. Growing up you don’t realise what a special place Exmouth is until you move away and about seven or eight years ago I decided to come back. I stepped back into the business, started at the bottom, and worked my way up with the full support of Mum.

Jocelyn says: “I love working with Dustin and his wife Kira. I never expected the boys to take over the supermarket, wanting them to walk their own paths, but I am delighted that we are doing this together. Dustin has a passion for food, customer service and what he can bring to the local community and I couldn’t be prouder!”

“Mum is always the hardest working person in the room, and I don’t think she will ever slow down,” continued Dustin.  “She is the heart and the soul of the business and it has been such a privilege to learn from her people skills and her unique way of approaching every situation. She has always taught us to respect and honour our team, who are more like family, she always puts customers first and it really is a beautiful thing to watch.”

Jo and Jack Elson – proud owners of Mt Barker IGA

As a single mum with two young boys Jo Elson put everything on the line when she took on IGA Mount Barker to build a better future for her family.

Jo said: “I’ve worked incredibly hard over the years to get to where we are today. I am so proud of what we have built and am constantly looking for better ways to serve our local community. Both my boys Jack and Henry have worked in the store with me, but it has only been recently that Jack started working full time.

“It really changes your mindset when your kids take an interest in the family business. He started full time during the pandemic and had to learn on the run, but it was good to have him there for extra support as we dealt with panic buying, changing legislation and many other challenges.

Jack says: “Being the boss’ son hasn’t meant that Mum has given me a free pass. I’ve started learning from the bottom up, working in all areas of the store. There isn’t a job in the supermarket that Mum wouldn’t do, and she expects the same from the entire team, so I have really had to show that I am prepared to work hard, learn, and prove myself.

“The best thing about working with Mum is being able to watch and learn about how to operate in what can be a pretty tough industry. Mum has such an amazing work ethic. I see how hard she works every day and the influence that this has on everyone and this inspires me to do my best.”

And the learning goes both ways according to Jo: “I’ve worked in this industry for a long time, but bouncing ideas with Jack over the dinner table and asking for his opinion has helped me learn how our younger team members relate to me, bridging the generational gap to be a better leader.

“Jack is really a delight to work with. Now that I have seen him grow and develop, hopefully soon I will be able to take a little step back and let the boys take over!”