THERE’S no doubt that Australia was buzzing with lottery fever last week when Powerball reached its highest jackpot in history at $200 million, and Ipswich was not immune with Ipswich City Mall Newsagency owner Pauline Williamson reporting record ticket sales in the lead-up to the draw.
“Australia has been buzzing with lotto fever in recent weeks and we’ve definitely felt that here in the heart of Ipswich,” Pauline said.
“I was hoping we would see our first Division 1 winner in the latest record-breaking jackpot. At a time when so many people are struggling to make ends meet, it’s hard to imagine just how life changing that kind of money could be.”
While Pauline didn’t sell the Division 1 winning tickets in this case, she has seen a good share of winners in the nine years since she took over the business, estimating the amount of winnings from tickets sold at the newsagency to be more than $250,000, and the highest individual winnings reaching almost $50,000.
The newsagency is a local institution in Ipswich Central, located on Nicholas Street in the emerging city heart. Operating from a 200-year-old building for 60 years, it has lived on through many changes – including a global pandemic and two major CBD redevelopments – yet only a handful of owners.
“I took over the newsagency in 2015, and before that the owners had been here for 34 years,” Pauline said.
“I have been in Ipswich now for more than 20 years, but I know that many customers have been coming to the newsagency for more than 30.
“Our customers are loyal and have adapted with us as we’ve diversified over the years and supported us when we’ve struggled through personal challenges as well as major impacts to the business.”
Throughout her time at the helm, Pauline has been a pillar of strength through adversity. Only days after buying into the newsagency, her husband Roger was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. He passed away two years later, just seven months after her son Matthew died suddenly of a heart attack.
Then, COVID-19 took its toll on retail businesses globally.
“Through it all, I have been determined to make the newsagency a success,” Pauline said.
Nestled between local favourites Trottie Becke and Rusty Nail on the eastern side of Nicholas Street, and the new Venue entertainment precinct set to open later this year across the road, this pocket of the precinct is a blend of Ipswich’s past and present.
From the front, Ipswich City Mall newsagency might appear like a typical store selling lotto tickets, gifts and post office supplies – but inside, a decades-old mural dating back to the 1940s was uncovered behind a false wall, pointing to the history preserved in the building.
“The mural shows Mickey Mouse holding a book, a woman in a yellow dress walking a poodle and a book with a lady dressed in feathers on the cover, and it stretches the length of one of the walls,” Pauline said.
“We appealed to the public for any knowledge of the artist or the background of the piece, but didn’t get too far – we wondered if we might have uncovered an unknown d’Arcy Doyle masterpiece.
“Ipswich Art Gallery helped us to narrow down the rough time-frame based on the paints used and we even got as far as finding out the artist was from England, but unfortunately nothing further from there.
We are making sure to preserve it so that it can keep bringing joy, to us and our customers, for many years to come.”