The South Kempsey Corner Store and Cafe
When Ben Marks studied branding and marketing at university, he never imagined it would lead to opening his own café.
After growing up in Kempsey, Ben spent many years in the fashion industry, working for well known brands like Top Shop both on the Gold Coast and in Sydney. During that time he successfully created and on-sold two event merchandising businesses whilst working full-time in fashion. Long hours and the complications of city living led to Ben seeking a more relaxedlife closer to family and friends.
“I’d had a gutful of the fashion industry and wanted to spend more time with my family,” he says. “My parents owned a property in Kempsey with a supermarket that had been run into the ground. We thought, ‘let’s do something with this’.”
In 2016, Ben returned to home to Kempsey to join his parents in creating The South Kempsey Corner Store, a café and general store that has earned a local following for its great coffee, delicious food and communal atmosphere.
Ben lives with his wife, Kirra, a fashion designer, in the coastal paradise of Crescent Head, allowing him to enjoy long surfs on his days off. Dream lifestyle aside, it’s the sense of community that reminds Ben why he left the big smoke.
“I feel like my life and work blend into each other here,” he says. “I work a lot but it doesn’t feel like it because I love what I do. I really enjoy meeting new people, forming relationships and having great conversations.”
For Ben, the more relaxed pace of life in the Macleay Valley and the friendliness of its people more than compensate the demands of running a busy café.
“I like that people have time to chat, and that I have the time to care about them,” he says. “It’s also important to me to support local families – we currently employ 18 people and are looking to employ more. Having this business allows me to feel like I’m contributing to the community culture that I love.”
To find out more about the South Kempsey Corner Store page click here.