A CAREER as a lawyer or a stockfeed merchant? The choice was easy for Joel Nibali and with just two units left to qualify for the legal profession he didn’t hesitate.
“I felt I was past my time [at university],” the 25-year-old Kardinya local says.
He plans on finishing the degree, but with a business to run it’s on hold for the moment.
Dad Nibali senior runs one of WA’s oldest stockfeed businesses in Anketell, and his son grew up helping out.
“[My parents] brought it three months after I was born…they wanted me to be a lawyer…but this was more challenging,” he says, a sweep of the hand taking in his fiefdom.
The heritage-listed limestone premises has been a stockfeed merchants since it was built in 1926.
For years it was owned and operated by John Greenslade, the name synonymous with the landmark building.
Customers would ride up on horse and cart, stocking up on supplies for the horse, sheep and pigs, unlike today’s customers who are mostly shopping for much-loved dogs and cats: “Our most popular item certainly isn’t horse feed anymore,” Mr Nibali says.
The old building had been empty for a while before Mr Nibali opened almost two years ago.
“Everyone thought I was stupid for starting a business in the middle of a downturn.”
Custom was light and money tight, so he hand delivered 20,000 flyers letting people know he was open for business.
He’d work all day and spend an hour after closing letter-boxing a 10 kilometre radius.
It paid off and he now has a staff of three.
The Nibali business logo is a yellow budgerigar, named Corny, because of her love of corn.
She was a gift from a family friend and it was’t long before she was a family member: “[Making] her way from living in the slums of the laundry to prime location in the lounge room.
“[She] was sheltered from the elements by having a heater in winter and her own personal fan in summer.”
The opening of Nibali was dedicated to Corny, who died just beforehand.
The store is inviting customers to share their own favourite pet stories on-line, with gift vouchers for the most touching, or funny.
Wander in and you’ll find the usual pet supplies, including a wide range of dried food and fresh meat, and a few more unusual items including (seasonally) lemons and limes, and locally grown custard apples, which customers bring in: “We do old fashioned service with old fashion bartering,” Mr Nibali says.
The old fashioned service extends to carrying customers purchases to the car, no matter how small.
Joel Nibali loves his job and although the store closes at 5.30pm: “If the van is out the front I’m here [and open].”
by JENNY D’ANGER
77 Rockingham Road, Hamilton HIll