In the months and days before Ghanam's death, he worried the deteriorating security situation, his family said.
Still, he was making plans for the future. He had fallen in love and was going to get married, his mother said. He still played in the neighborhood soccer league, and he was looking for a permanent job with the government.
But with the rise in car bombings, he took precautions.
"So many times, Mahdi canceled a planned trip to go to the ... market to buy stuff for his store never knowing that instead one day he would die inside his store," Ghanam's brother, Ali, said.
The family won't participate in the upcoming elections because they don't believe it will make a difference, he said.
"If you ask me if I am optimistic about the future of Iraq, I really don't have an answer. Maybe a year ago, I would have said I am maybe optimistic. But now I'm just not sure," Ali Ghanam said.
"I see no good future for Iraq if this continues."