On purchasing the Ainslie Supermarket / Milk Bar in 1963, Nick and Alice Xyrakis started stocking a larger range of groceries and fruit and vegetables.

They doubled the size of the store in 1973, making it the largest independent supermarket in Canberra. In november 1975, it became one of the foundation stores of the Shop-Rite group of supermarkets in the ACT.

After the Xyrakis family bought out the neighbouring Goodlands Supermarket in March 1976, they increased the size of their store by a further fifty per cent.

Nick Xyrakis died in July 1986 and the business was continued by Alice, son Manuel, daughters Irene and Yvonne. Also the respective spouses of Nick and Alice’s children and other members of their families would also work in the business.

Like other independent supermarkets, the Ainslie Shop-Rite was facing stiff competition from the major supermarket chains. For its long- term well-being the supermarket had to maintain its membership of a group like Shop-Rite that could buy in bulk from the wholesalers. Also, it had to get bigger and offer as extensive a range of products as the major supermarkets. Fortunately, the family had had the foresight to extend and refurbish existing property and business.This factor was of crucial importance in the supermarket’s survival.

Accordingly, on 15 May 1988, the store closed down for three months for reconstruction and refurbishment. The whole shopping centre suffered during the closure, but when the Ainslie Shop-Rite re-opened on 24 August 1988 business immediately jumped by 25 per cent on what it had been before the closure.

Following the break-up of the Shop-Rite group, the Xyrakis’ store joined IGA Supermarkets on 31 may 1993, almost 30 years to the day since Nick and Alice purchased with their small store. In the same year, the supermarket won the IGA Retailer of the year award for the ACT.

To the present day, the Ainslie IGA Supermarket remains a family owned and operated enterprise, employing around 75 people. Its survival and expansion in the face of severe competition have been critical to the flourishing of the Ainslie Shopping Centre as a whole, both as a suburban retail centre and as a social centre for the residents of Ainslie.

  • Manual with his father Nick and sisters Irene and Yvonne outside the Paragon supermarket in 1963.