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23 July 2021

Meet Meridith Stevens, Rose St Pantry Owner

As part of our We're In This Together interview series, we spoke to other Australian businesses on their journey through COVID-19 and here's what Meridith Stevens, Rose St Pantry Owner, has to say.

Tell us about your business in a few sentences.

Rose St Pantry is a provedore in Fitzroy specialising in small batch, local produce. It has all your kitchen staples along with a delicious selection of cheeses, antipasto and homemade meals cooked in the store. The open kitchen allows us to showcase our produce and encourage more customers to cook at home.

How are you and the business coping through the current crisis?

We are extremely fortunate to be busy through this crisis. We had about five days of panic buying and felt quite out of control but after that we have settled down to our new normal.

How are you and your team staying connected & keeping up morale from afar?

Because we’re still open we’re able to remain connected. The social distancing doesn’t come naturally in such a friendly, sociable environment. We also usually have tastings on the counter and encourage people of help themselves when they drop in so it feels strange not sharing our produce with our community.

Because what we do hasn’t changed a lot we have been able to offer a calm, familiar place to customers that’s removed from all the change and chaos of covid 19. It’s interesting to watch people come through the door looking anxious, then they stop, look around and usually say something like “oh, you’ve still got everything” and then they relax, do their shopping and come and have a chat. We’re really happy to be that safe, calm place for people.

Our staff keep mentioning how grateful they are to come to work so they can be out of the house and chatting with everyone so it’s made for a positive environment to work in with even more chit chat than usual.

Do you have any advice for other businesses right now?

Take it one day at a time. Stay connected with your customers through social media.

If you’re able to offer any products or services online then do that as much as possible. Because a lot of businesses are doing this at the moment it’s important to be innovative and frequent with your posting.

If it’s quiet take the time to catch up on all the business projects that you usually can’t get to so once this is over you’re prepared and ready to go.

Have you found any positives through all this? Do you think there will be positive change after we’ve recovered?

The positives for us have been new customers discovering us because they have been out walking which they don’t always have the time to do. They are also experiencing a lot of produce that isn’t available in mainstream supermarkets.

We are a big advocate for local farmers markets and we’ve noticed that more people are visiting the farmers markets because of the shortages in the supermarkets, the negative experiences they are having in the supermarkets and the fact that they have more time. They are commenting to us how much fresher the produce is and how much more flavour it has. Hopefully this will encourage people to shop at the markets more often and support our amazing, incredible hard working farmers.

We cook meals every day and about half our customers come home from work and drop in to get dinner. Since lock down we are selling more ingredients and less meals as people have time to cook dinner. This is such a positive thing because it’s encouraging people to be more connected to their food and to enjoy preparing it.

We’ve also noticed that once the initial shock of lock down was over people were calmer as they weren’t rushing around. The had time to go for a walk, to stop and have a chat with neighbours so the atmosphere in Rose Street has definitely changed in a more positive way.

Learn more about Rose St Pantry

Instagram: @rose_st_pantry
Facebook: Rose St Pantry