BRIAN O'Leary has run the Flaxman Street milk bar in Warrnambool for nearly three decades and still loves the work.
But he recognises that milk bars are fighting for survival.
During the 29-year-long stint he and his wife Glenda have worked at their milk bar, at the corner of Flaxman and Nicholson streets, they have seen the number of milk bars in east Warrnambool drop from eight to three.
The tough times facing milk bars was made apparent last week with the Mortlake Road milk bar shutting up shop. It followed the closure of the Henna Street milk bar earlier this year.
Mr O'Leary said the loss of milk bars was eliminating the social contact that held neighbourhoods together.
"We have people coming down here and I reckon half the reason they come is for a yarn," he said.
"It's keeping in touch with people. In these days of increasing computerisation, we are losing it."
Mr O'Leary said milk bar operators had to like people to run a successful milk bar.
"We have great clientele. We have made great friends over the years."
The couple are Warrnambool's longest-serving milk bar operators and Mr O'Leary said one of the reasons they had survived for so long was because they had excellent staff who had allowed them to take plenty of time off.
Its good location, across the road from Warrnambool East Primary School, and its provision of school lunches three times a week, coupled with easy parking were also critical factors in its survival.
Mr O'Leary, 66, said the loss of many of milk bars' traditional income streams milk and bread to lower-priced competitors and the decline in newspapers and magazines sales to online readership, was forcing many milk bars to focus more on providing takeaway food.
His milk bar has hot food and salad bars. The lolly counter, one of the icons of milk bars, is still a big drawcard.
"We sell the most lollies to adults," Mr O'Leary said.
"The more people give up cigarettes, the more lollies they buy ."
The O'Learys' son Gavin works almost full-time in the milk bar and Mr O'Leary said it was up to him to decide whether he would take the family's ownership of the milk bar into a second generation.
Sue Cowling is another long-time Warrnambool milk bar operator, having worked at the Derby Street milk bar in Warrnambool's east for 19 years.
She and her husband bought it eight years ago but have it on the market because she wants a new challenge.
"It needs fresher blood to bring in fried food," she said of the milk bar's future.
Mrs Cowling said she had become part of the lives of many of her customers.
"Some days I can have three to four guys gasbagging in the shop," she said.
"We talk about the issues in the newspapers: politics, football.
"I give them heaps . I do enjoy the people round here."
"Some people cannot drive but they can walk to the shop. They rely on us.
"We have got an ATM. It is convenience."
Mrs Cowling has the shop opened from 4.30am, providing breakfast and lunches for people heading off to work.
She works six days a week until 3pm, when a part-timer takes over until 7pm.
Her husband does the Sunday shift.
Her two children also worked in the business in their younger years and her daughter still does shifts there in between her university studies.
Mrs Cowling believed government needed to step in to control the power of supermarkets and give milk bars a better chance to remain viable.
"There used to be more times for milk bars to get ahead. They were open on public holidays, when supermarkets weren't."
Another challenge facing milk bars was that young people were not patronising them as they had in the past.
"The young ones are moving away. The young ones spend the money," Mrs Cowling said.
Mrs Cowling said she suspected people would not realise the value of milk bars until they were gone
"They have to look at more than getting something for the lowest price.
"The milk bar is the connection point."