10 May 2023

Phillip Kyaw proud to be running the longest running Asian grocery store in town

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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 Phillip Kyaw.

Mingalar Asian Grocery owner Phillip Kyaw. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Wagga’s Mingalar Asian Grocery’s owner Phillip Kyaw always wanted to run a grocery store.

When Phillip first moved to Wagga, he worked in a meat factory and planned to one day own his own business.

“When I looked around the town, I saw there was no Asian grocery,” Phillip said.

“That’s when I thought there might be an opportunity to open up a shop here.”

In 2012 Phillip opened Mingalar Asian Grocer in Wagga, and it is currently located on Tompson Street.

Phillip moved to the new address earlier this year from his previous location on Baylis Street.

“After running the grocer for many years, I realised I needed to find a good location, great size and have easy parking for my customers.

“It took me a long time because I couldn’t find good locations.

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“I’ve moved the shop around five times now,” he said.

The small business owner proudly said his customers had told him he had been the only Asian grocer who had been running a grocery business without closing down.

“There were few stores before me, but they didn’t last long.”

The young father said the best part of running a store for more than a decade was that it gave him the opportunity to get to know more people.

“It made my job enjoyable,” Phillip said.

The grocery store owner believed Wagga had plenty of opportunities to grow when asked about the growth he had seen over the past decade.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who used to live and work here in Wagga but after a few years move away to the bigger cities like Sydney or Melbourne because of job opportunities,” Phillip said.

“It’s very difficult to find jobs here because not that many new businesses are opening in Wagga.

“The population is slowly growing, but I think Wagga could do better,” he said.

Phillip has aspirations to grow his business and wants to focus on his store.

“I want to take the business to the next level so I can have more time off and spend it with my family,” he said.

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“I’d like to do more travelling … and take my family back to Burma (now called Myanmar) and show them where I grew up, on the border between Burma and Thailand.”

Phillip migrated to Australia with his mother in 1997 as a refugee and lived in Sydney before making the move to Wagga in 2009.

He moved at a time of political upheaval and persecution in Myanmar when the military regime overtook the country, displacing more than 11,000 people.

“We could go back home, but we don’t have much choice, there’s no job opportunities and you can’t go to school,” he said.

He was in need of a change and lifestyle after living in Sydney for a decade. The opportunity to move arose when his ex-partner got a job in Wagga, and he made the move with her.

Phillip met his now wife in Wagga, and the couple have a five-year-old son with another baby on the way.

Mingalar Asian Grocery is located on 2/40 Tompson Street, Wagga Wagga and is open Monday to Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 11 am to 3:30 pm.

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