The produce supplier born from seeds of pandemic

Couple starts An Apple A Day during the coronavirus crisis and plans to keep growing

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New business: Shereen Morris started An Apple A Day with her husband Caleb in Mayfield. Picture: Ben Adams

New business: Shereen Morris started An Apple A Day with her husband Caleb in Mayfield. Picture: Ben Adams

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'From the first week we thought, 'we need to think differently'. '

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SHEREEN and Caleb Morris are doers.

The NSW couple was exposed as COVID-19 hit Australia: they weren't eligible for the JobKeeper allowance - Caleb became redundant in January, Shereen had begun a new business.

So they turned their hobby of organising fruit and veg boxes for 15 friends, and grew it into a business.

"We're not the type of people who will sit and let it all happen," Shereen said.

"From the first week we thought, 'we need to think differently'. We need to do something. We need to do what we can to make something out of it."

More than two months down the track, they are serving about 150 customers a week, and this week launch a website for the business.

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They got the basics right, offering a variety of boxes of produce to fit various price points and household needs.

They will now be offering extras, like honey, eggs, coffee beans, herbs.

And they built community into their business model, selling boxes at cost price to Wesley Mission in Newcastle, which provides them to local refugee families (who are also not eligible for JobKeeper subsidies), and to the The Grainery Church, which provides them to needy local families.

"When we first started, we did free boxes for people without income," Sheeren said. "We did one free one for every 20 boxes.

"We want to do what we can for the community."

As COVID-19 restrictions have reduced, the Morrises have decided to stick with An Apple A Day as a business.

What we've achieved is great. To set up a business during COVID, set it up debt-free, I think we've done well. But like any business owner, we've got a lot to do. - Shereen Morris

But it's not easy, with customers returning to supermarket shopping.

"My goal is keep it cheaper than retail," Shereen said.

"We are sitting at 15-20 per cent less than Coles or Woolworths."

While An Apple A Day offers pickup service on Tuesdays and Fridays from the laneway behind their home on Woodstock Street, Mayfield, they also offer delivery - $10 for single address, or the same $10 for bulk deliveries to home or work places (two or more people).

They started with friends, and grew through friends telling friends, and still see word of mouth as important.

"When I sit back and look at it all, I'm proud of what we've done," Shereen said.

"What we've achieved is great. To set up a business during COVID, set it up debt-free, I think we've done well. But like any business owner, we've got a lot to do."

The business has used Facebook since it began, but from this week will be engaging customers through their new website, https://www.anappleadaynewy.com/.

"In first four to six weeks it grew," Shereen said.

"Now, shopping habits are going back to normal. We are starting to see a drop off in numbers. It is challenging for us, we wanted to see growth.

"We need to double the growth to keep it going for the long term."

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