SERVICE and quality are what one Tamworth fruit and vegetable retailer credits for a finalist berth in the Greengrocer of the Year Awards.
Farmer Bob’s Fruit Markets was one of six regional finalists in the competition, organised by Sydney Markets.
There were 210 small businesses competing for the top regional and metropolitan awards and it got down to six finalists in the regional category.
Stuart Rennie, who, with wife Caryn, owns the Farmer Bob’s Fruit Markets in Phillip St and Brewery Ln, said it was an honour to be short-listed.
Last Saturday night they attended the awards dinnner at Le Montage in Sydney and while they didn’t come away with the top award, there was the satisfaction in being recognised for all their hard work.
As part of the judging, mystery shoppers visit nominees three times during the year and Mr Rennie believes his stores’ customer service and the quality of their produce would have impressed.
The couple bought the Phillip St business 19 years ago and three years later added the Brewery Ln location.
There are now more than 25 staff between the two stores.
Running a small business is no easy task and Mr Rennie acknowledged the challenges they faced. He said the competition from the big supermarkets couldn’t be ignored, as they spent millions on advertising and offered customers
a one-stop-shopping experience. What they couldn’t offer though, he said, was personalised customer service – where staff got to know shoppers’ names – and expert advice on the products they were selling.
Sydney Markets chief executive officer Brad Latham said the calibre of finalists was exceptional and as households tightened their budgets and became more selective about how and where they shopped, “greengrocers have focused on lifting quality, value and connecting with their community to ensure they keep customers contentedly walking through the doors”.
The regional winner was Country Fruit Bathurst and the metropolitan top gong went to Norton St Grocer at Leichhardt.