In 1973 my husband and I had four young children. We had come to Australia a few years previously and we were anxious to become financially secure. With a young family, it was impossible for me to work, even if a married woman with four children could get a job in Brisbane at that time. Our best option was to buy a corner store. The plan was Sean would keep working and I was to run the shop.
The shop had living accommodation attached and a large garden for the children to play. Everything looked promising. But, like all great plans, there were snags. We didn’t find out until after we had bought the shop that the milk was delivered at 4.00am and it had be taken in and put in the fridge immediately. Health inspectors frequently followed the milk delivery truck to ensure this law was followed.
The Newspapers and magazines were delivered at 6.00am and while they could be dropped off outside the shop, it was necessary to take them in and write the names of the people who had orders, on them. It would never do if someone was to miss out on his or her paper because we had oversold.
The shop opened at 7.00am. There would be people waiting for the shop to open. They wanted their newspapers, cigarettes or a Bex and Coke. It was amazing how many people were addicted to Vincent’s and Bex powders mixed with Coca Cola.
Meanwhile my husband would get his breakfast and leave for work and I would juggle getting the two older children aged 5 and 7 ready for school as well as serving customers.
We soon discovered living at the back of the shop had problems. People would come to the back door long after we had closed for the day, asking to buy milk, bread, cigarettes, matches, postage stamps (we sold them as a service to the public, there was no mark-up on them), and whatever else disorganized people decided they needed. The shop was open from 7.00am to 7.00pm seven days a week, but those hours were not long enough for some people.
We couldn’t live like that, so we bought a house further up the street to live in. That was a help. People didn’t expect us to go down the street and unlock the shop after hours, to sell them what they wanted.
Now we had two mortgages to repay and trying to live between two premises with small children was stressful.
We decided to sell the shop. An older married couple were interested in buying but they were unable to get finance until they sold their house. We leased it to them giving them first option to purchase when their house sold. A year passed and their house was still on the market.
We had a dream of living on acreage. One Saturday my husband sale a house on 25 acres for auction, advertised in the ‘Courier Mail’. It sounded just what we would like but my practical husband said we could not consider it. We already had two mortgages. However, one afternoon I put the children in the car, a big old Valiant station wagon, and went to see the property. I liked it and I estimated it would be in our price range, that’s if we could get a loan from the bank.
After a lot of wheedling, I got Sean to reluctantly come and look at it. He liked it too but he said there was no way we could buy it.
The auction day came and I said we should go the auction to see what the selling price would be. A friend of Sean’s came with us.
The bidding started. There was a fair bit of interest but gradually bidders dropped out. The next thing Sean was bidding. I was excited and tense. Maybe, just maybe, we would have the highest bid. Finally there was just another couple and Sean bidding. They had the highest bid and the Auctioneer was about to drop the hammer, when Sean made another bid. I learned afterwards that his mate had said ‘go one more’. The hammer dropped. We had to sign documents and pay ten percent deposit and we had 60 days to settle. We would lose that money if the bank wouldn’t give us a third loan.
The bank manager said they might consider giving us a bridging loan until our house or the shop sold. We had to wait for their decision.
We listed our house with a Real Estate Agent. I prayed and I had the children praying for the house to sell quickly or the shop leasees to buy the shop or the bank to give us the bridging loan.
A few days later, the Real Estate Agent phoned saying he wanted to take people to view our house. They arrived half an hour later, looked at the house and left. Shortly afterwards the Agent phoned again and said they have signed the contract. ‘Your house is sold’ he said. I was ecstatic.
Then the mail arrived. There were two letters. One from the bank saying the bridging loan had been approved and the other from the solicitor of the people leasing the shop saying they were now in a position to buy the shop. All that happened in one morning.
Miracles do happen.