Jess Causley and her family have had a rollercoaster few weeks
Jess Causley and her family have had a rollercoaster few weeks

Remarkable turnaround as shop rehires

IN NINETEEN years of business, there are going to be ups and downs, but a few weeks ago Causley Fresh was as close to the precipice as it gets.

But incredibly, the business is bouncing back.

As cafes and restaurants closed their doors, Jessica Causley watched her wholesale fruit and vegetable business start tanking, almost their entire customer base gone within the blink of an eye.

Suddenly she was put in the unenviable position of having to lay off longstanding staff members.

“Business stopped straight away and we had to sack a lot of people, we just did not have any work for them,” she said.

“There were two weeks of sleepless nights, we were just crying — after having built this business over 19 years, we employ a fair few people and it was really, really sad.”

The saving grace for the business was its retail arm, with the public stocking up on food at the height of the uncertainty during those initial days of lockdown.

Ms Causley said while toilet paper took the headlines, there was also a run on some vegetables.

“They also bought pumpkins, they all wanted pumpkins to get through the lockdown,” she said.

Fast forward a month and suddenly the business has been turned around by embracing “something totally new” in home delivery.

A combination of government-issued health directives and a reluctance to venture out in public has meant enthusiasm for home-delivered fresh food has taken off in the community.

Ms Causley said the business had tapped into this to such a degree they had been able to re-employ staff.

“That (deliveries) exploded as soon as soon as we started and I called up the people who had been let go and asked them if they wanted their jobs back,” she said

“It is super stressful because this is something totally new for us and we are still learning.

“I am doing it with my 16-year-old daughter who is on Easter school holidays and we have just been thrown into this whole new thing — we have to learn fast because we have so many orders.”

Ms Causley said she had the impression the pandemic had caused many people to rethink where they sourced food, which led many to support small businesses in a new way.

There has been an influx of new customers and Ms Causley said if new shopping habits continued as restrictions lifted there was every chance the business would grow even bigger.

“At the moment I am using wholesale staff to help me with the boxes but as soon as the restaurants are up and going I will be very short staffed,” she said.

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