Local legends: Battlefield corner shop owner who has joked with customers for over four decades

Mr Ali of Ali Bros in Battlefield.Mr Ali of Ali Bros in Battlefield.
Mr Ali of Ali Bros in Battlefield.
What is a local legend? A pub landlord who has been pulling pints for generations, a pillar of the community who has supported various local charities, a corner shop owner who has the best banter in town - people who are well known and make their areas a better place to live.

In the first in our new series celebrating local legends we spoke to Mr Ali, owner of the Ali Bros corner shop in Battlefield.

For over four decades, Liaqat Ali has operated the Ali Bros newsagent on Sinclair Drive.

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Whether it’s because his endless collection of not safe for work jokes - a list of which he keeps written on the back of a lottery ticket hidden next to the till - or his pearls of wisdom, generations of Glaswegians have chosen to do their small shops at Ali Bros.

But how much do you really know about the man simply known as Mr Ali?

His family moved to Glasgow in 1964 from the city of Faisalabad in the Punjab region of Pakistan. His parents bought the shop in 1979 as a means of allowing their children to work together.

“I wouldn’t say it was a Christmas present - more of a jail sentence,” Mr Ali joked.

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“44 years here sounds like a jail sentence. I would have got released earlier if I had committed murder.”

Regulars to the shop will know that it is not just Mr Ali who runs the shop - he is often helped by two of his sons, one of whom made a few TV appearances on early morning news channels back in May after going to Portugal to watch his beloved Chelsea team win the Champions League.

Mr Ali said he has noticed few changes in the area since he opened the shop, although he has recognised a change in the population - “there are more young people about”.

Many locals - old and young - have been going to Ali Bros for years, with even middle aged folk able to reminisce about seeing Mr Ali when they were small children.

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Many give him cards at holidays, while one customer even presented him with a drawing of his shop.

The drawing presented to Mr Ali.The drawing presented to Mr Ali.
The drawing presented to Mr Ali.

“People have known us for 40-odd years,” Mr Ali said. “They are happy with what we sell and how we conduct our business.”

But what does Mr Ali enjoy about the job?

”It’s a jail sentence,” he reiterated. “There is no enjoyment here apart from coming to work every day of the week. The truth of the matter is that the shop has got to be run, you’ve got to do it every day, no matter what kind of day you’ve had. You’ve got to be enthusiastic, honest and get the job done.”

He also gave advice for others hoping to open their own store.

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“You have to have business acumen in their mindset,” he explained. “This is a job for life, not a short period of time. There is no reward if you come today and go a couple of years later. I’ve done this for a long-term policy.”

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