The only man with a reliable supply of toilet roll for miles around is busy, of course, when I call in to find out how he does what the big supermarkets have all failed spectacularly to do.
“It’s a team effort,” explains Waz Abbas, of Waz’s convenience store in Broxburn. “Without the team here all working together with my wife Assfa and myself, it wouldn’t happen.”
In the strange new world we have entered, toilet roll and dried goods have become restricted items. But there’s nothing strange about Waz’s common sense approach to making sure everyone in the community gets what they need, to the very best of his ability. “From the very beginning of this crisis, I simply didn’t let people walk out with more than one of any of the restricted items,” he explains. It was a native instinct for equity that he didn’t even need to think about. Along with a mind-boggling number of trips to keep topping up supplies, this has meant that Waz’s has been a pretty reliable source for the full range of essentials for the good folk of Broxburn.
As if that’s not enough, they have also been out and about delivering to people who can’t get into the shop themselves due to being vulnerable or in self isolation. As Assfa explains, it’s predominantly older members of the community falling into this category, who are less likely to be doing an online shop, so Waz’s phone has been ringing off the hook and they’re flat out to fulfil all orders.
Waz and Assfa have been running the shop here in Broxburn for 21 years. Originally from Livingston, Waz moved to Broxburn to open the shop 21 years ago, he and Assfa were married here and they have been keeping supplies rolling ever since, building up a fantastic rapport with the community and clearly thriving on it.
When not working, they are involved in helping Syrian civil war refugees, and have travelled to Lebanon and Greece to help out. Perhaps their experiences and what they have seen there made it second nature when it came to knowing how to handling the coronavirus crisis here.
“The community has always supported us, and it’s about helping each other. We’ve got a small team of fantastic guys helping out. I’d like to thank them, and all our customers.” says Waz.
A delighted customer, who had just been able to find liquid paracetamol at Waz’s for her child who can’t swallow pills, concurred, “These two are just brilliant.”
Published in Konect April 2020
Author: This article was written by Helen-Jane Shearer after visiting Waz’s Convenience Store in Broxburn, chatting to Waz and Assfa and purchasing potatoes at a time when no other shops had them. Helen-Jane is the editor of Konect and lives in West Lothian with her family.