In the third of a series of articles celebrating the traders of Armley Town Street, WLD‘s Jess Wong catches up with independent trader Qaisar Mahmoud, who has spoken in defence of the area…
“I know them, and they know me. I saw kids growing up, and they are parents now,” a phone shop owner in Armley has stated with pride.
For the past 12 years, Fones Xpert Ltd has been deeply rooted in Armley Town Street. Owner Qaisar Mahmoud has witnessed the neighbourhood’s growth since his arrival in 2011. Despite the relatively cheaper rent, it’s Qaisar’s belief in the community and his loyal customer base have kept him in Armley.
While acknowledging the presence of good and bad elements within the community, Qaisar said: “That’s why I have been here for 12 years; if all of them are bad, I wouldn’t be staying here.”
Qaisar says he has never encountered any trouble: “There is a pub next to me, but I have never had any trouble.” He then clarifies that pub patrons and the relatively small number of street drinkers on Town Street are different groups.
With a loyal customer base, Qaisar considers himself an integral part of the Armley community. “I have been here for 12 years now; I know 90% of them, and they know me; I saw kids growing up, and they are parents now,” Qaisar states with pride.
While he hasn’t considered relocating, Qaisar entertains the idea of opening a similar business elsewhere. With his vast industry knowledge, he understands profit margins and occasional losses. He recalls a recent incident where a customer ran away with an iPhone 13, highlighting rare negative experiences.
Despite such incidents, the majority of Qaisar’s customers are loyal and often return. “People come back; yes, 90% of my customers are returning customers.” He said, “My reviews are really good, I’m the oldest person here in this business.”
He and fellow business owners regularly engage with the local Member of Parliament, Rachel Reeves, to address concerns and issues. He says this support ensures a conducive environment for businesses in Armley. Qaisar believes that more customers and businesses can benefit the community, and he welcomes the locals’ support in boosting his business.