We took a trip to over to the East Coast to check in on one of our amazing on-sellers to see how their year has been going so far. Located in the Fashion Island Shopping Centre in Papamoa, Wholefoods Bin Inn offer an extensive range of health and wellness products, including freshly-baked Volare breads. Serving up Kokako coffee, they also house a small coffee shop inside so you can stay caffeinated while you shop. Afterward, we took some time to chat to the lovely owners, Paul and Jo, and here’s what they had to say…
Tell us the story about your store and how it came to be…
Paul and I (Jo) own this store and we have just ticked over a year and a half of ownership. It’s been a huge year, but we are loving being part of the Papamoa community. We bought it as a going concern. We loved the vibe of the store and its ethos. We love working alongside our fab customers, to support sustainable practices and learn more about health and wellbeing through food.
What makes your store unique?
Our vibe and our passion for people and produce. Our store is a fun, friendly place to shop. Our customers are magic. We love talking with them, getting to know them and helping them find what they are after. If we don’t have it, we do our best to get it.
How have the challenges of the past years affected your business?
It’s been a tough year, but we are now seeing things improving for the better. Our customers and staff have been amazing, helping us to get through. We know that there are businesses that have not made it through, and we feel truly saddened by this.
Do you rely mostly on tourists or do you have a strong following in your local community?
Our customers are mainly locals in our lovely community. We have been a little bit of a well-kept secret and are now sharing our story to more people. Daily we have new people coming into our store and discovering us. We love it when they tell us what a lovely store it is, how surprised they are by it and how much they enjoy shopping with us. They talk about the variety of products in our store and the nice feel of the place. This is the ‘gold’ that I speak of. This makes our hearts sing all day long!
How did you find out about Volare and how do your customers like Volare?
Volare was already ranged when we purchased the store from the previous owners. Volare has a loyal customer base, some customers are waiting at the door for opening to secure their loaf of Volare.
What is your favourite Volare product?
Fig and Walnut is probably my favourite, followed up by the grain. We are developing a loyal following of Lucy’s Bread too. It is truly a fantastic gluten-free sourdough range.
What have your biggest challenges been since opening?
We were new to retail. We’d spent our careers in large companies, on supply side. Engaging with customers who actively want to shop with us, is a lovely change. When we took over the business there were no back-end systems. We spent the year getting this sorted which has been a huge challenge. But now we are through this. I have gone from taking between 30-40 hours ordering per week (3000 products manually ordered) to about 3-4 hours per week ordering due to investing in an inventory management system. This change has given me more time to spend on the shop floor, which is awesome.
What do you hope to see for the future of your business and the food industry in general?
We would like to continue to introduce new customers to our store. We are confident that new people coming to our store, shall be pleasantly surprised and shall remain with us based on the feedback we have had to date. Supply chain issues are going to be with us for some time yet, but we hope that this too settles down and we can continue to provide interesting produce, including local produce. The Bay of Plenty is a great place to live. We want to see it continue to prosper. 85% of New Zealand business is small business. For New Zealand to prosper NZ Inc needs to be healthy. We also are keen to encourage more people to consider adding sustainable practices to their shopping habits. We like to think we are helping to save the planet one customer at a time.
What’s your favourite thing about living where you live and the community you’re in?
The vibe of the place. People choose to live here because they are seeking a balanced lifestyle. It’s a friendly, personable place. There are also some exciting businesses here that are doing great things.
What does a typical day look like for you as a business owner?
It’s busy, we start early and finish late. If we’re not on the shop floor we are in our home office completing admin to ensure that the shop is smooth running. It’s been manic this past year, but things are improving. Our goal is to be able to spend less time on admin and more time engaging with the gold that is our customers and team.
And lastly, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given/words to live by?
Do one thing every day that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt. I had this sitting on my office desk for many years. Stretch yourself, step out of your comfort zone, whether this is in life or work. Removing the overly-large-bug from my home wall probably ticked that box yesterday!