A Shift in the Life of a Fruit and Vegetable Manager at Simon’s Gourmet Gallery

Welcome to our ever first ‘a shift in the life of…’ article. A shift in a life goes behind the scenes at Simon’s Gourmet Gallery and takes us through a typical day as a member of the Simon’s family. To kick-off a string of insightful stories through the eyes of our team members is Renee, our Fruit and Vegetable Manager at Simon’s Gourmet Gallery in Chapel Hill. Renee has been with Simon’s for over a year. She shares her stories on working in the best workstation in Simon’s during summer, breaking records, onion tears, the January flood and things that could go wrong on a bad day.

Take us through a typical day as Renee

While some of you are still dreaming away in the comfort of your beds I arrive at work for a 6am start, which I don’t mind at all as I miss all the peak hour traffic! I start my morning ‘shopping’ by going through all the fruit and veg, removing any produce that isn’t gourmet standard so that when you arrive to do your shopping you can easily pick the best!

 

 

I am greeted by a wonderful delivery of fresh flowers at 6.15am, which I arrange on our flower stand at the store’s entrance—this is one of many highlights of my day! At 7am I greet the morning cashier girl and begin to make a list of all the preparation I have to do to fill up the fridge for the day’s trade.

Many of you may not know this, but Simons has a downstairs area. This is where all my wonderful fruit boys spend a good 50 percent of their time chopping away to make our prepared packs such as Asian/Ultimate Stir Fry mixes, Roast Veg packs and Gourmet Morrocan packs. I lightly refer to downstairs as ‘the dungeon’ as it’s very cold in winter because it’s actually a fridge that we work in! Don’t worry it’s a blessing come summer as we have the best workstation in all of Simons! From 7 til 8.30am I am in ‘the dungeon’. I start off by wrapping our fresh delivered bread, which I then pass this on to our cashiers to label and to put on display, followed by filling up all the fridge produce.

 

I then move on to another highlight, Fruit Snacks! The reason they’re a highlight is because we must taste the fruit pieces so that we know they taste fantastic. I must admit sometimes I have to taste twice just to be sure! I then clean down my station and take all of my fruit and vegetable goodies upstairs to label. Just before it’s 8.30am, I send through my milk and flowers order and before we know it, the truck is back from the produce markets, then it’s all hands on deck to get the stock from the Simons aircon truck into our large fridge!

 

Between 10am -12pm we take turns to have our breakfast/lunch breaks and start our prep work for the butchers and the café—yes, don’t let the butchers fool you, it is actually the fruit and veg department that slaves away prepping their beans, capsicums and onions. We aim for 20 bags of onions every two days, which weigh a kilo each, so in one week we chop up over 60 kilos of onions—that’s a lot of tears!

During our prep time we designate one person to be our lookout, they check on the fruit and veg levels upstairs and fill up produce when needed so we don’t run out of any stock! Once all the prepping of vegetables for the butchers is complete, we move on to our café buckets. Some days we have to peel and core apples and pears, and on other days we have to peel buckets of onions—more crying! It’s all in good fun though as we set up races.

The end of the shift rolls around and we start to tidy up, throw out our boxes and clean up our stations. We do one final check of the store to make sure it’s fully stocked before handing the shift over to our night fruit person who completes some extra prep tasks and maintains the produce levels.

Most memorable experience at Simon’s Gourmet Gallery

I will never forget the January floods. Although I was stuck out on the isle of B-Town, other Simon’s staff members who could get to work made the effort to work extra shifts, and even when we could not open due to the floods, Simon’s staff members turned up to give a helping hand. Coming back after two weeks, everyone was so much closer, not just the Simon’s team but our loyal customers too. Your stories helped us to see the brighter side and to be thankful the water only reached the 15th step! I remember two days before we opened we had no power, we started to put out basics like biscuits and pantry items, a lady came in and was so thankful that we were ‘trading’ even though we had no power, a delivery man gave us our first order free of charge and other people were popping in just to have a chat and to see how we were bouncing back. That was the day I realised how important my job was.

What could go wrong on a bad day? How would you cope with a bad day?

*ring ring*

“Good morning Simon’s Gourmet Gallery, Renee speaking. How may I help you?”

“Renee, it’s me…I’m not feeling too well this morning…” that’s how it starts…man down, man down, and with no one to fill the ranks, it makes for an extra hardworking day! But this only happens every once in a blue moon though—thanks goodness!

Some days we just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, days when every box on our to-do list is ticked, orders fly in left right and centre, “Milk’s here, flowers are here, there’s a man on line one asking for your honey order!” How do I cope with this? I take a deep breath and think “Annie delivered a baby, you can do this!” Luckily these days don’t happen too often because I have my strength and my rock and a bit of sunshine followed by some wise words!

 

What do you love most about your job?

I love how much the customers love to see us. It’s nice to know they are excited to come out and shop with us and see how we are going! It’s nice to wake up and think “I wonder who I’ll see at work today” instead of thinking “oh I have to go to work”.

 

 



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