Adapting their boutique wholesale fresh fruit and vegetable delivery business – Early N Fresh – to a home delivery model in March last year when the first Melbourne lockdown kicked in has proven a masterstroke for husband and wife proprietors Simon Javor and Izzy Felsmann.
Prior to then, the successful business – established in early 2017 – delivered fresh produce sourced from the wholesale markets in Epping early each morning from Monday to Friday to more than 100 cafes, restaurants, caterers and schools in Melbourne’s southeast. When non-essential businesses were required to shut down and their sales began to fall, Early N Fresh pivoted to a Monday to Friday home delivery service, enabling new customers to use their website to select and order market fresh fruits and vegetables, for free delivery to their doors on the next business day for orders totalling at least $50.
“We do not offer pre-made or pre-mixed boxes because we pride ourselves on providing only the freshest, highest quality produce to our customers,” Javor said. “They can pick the items they want and need from our online store, and it all gets delivered in our unique branded Early N Fresh boxes.”
Business is now booming again for Early N Fresh, and a new trend of adding personal touches or gift items to delivery packs has emerged, following requests from customers. Recently, an Early N Fresh customer surprised her mum on her birthday with a box of hand-picked fruits, vegetables and a few extra personal goodies thrown in, which made her day when it was delivered to her, especially during this time of isolation.
“The special goodies in that box came directly from our customer – we picked them up at her house when we delivered her last order – it was such a great idea,” Felsmann said. “We are doing those kind of gift deliveries a lot now.
“People are wanting to send others – like close family members and friends –fresh food boxes with items they select, and to add an extra personal touch. “So we now have greeting cards that customers can fill out and include in the box that gets delivered.”
She added that even businesses and organisations are starting to order some for their staff members and their families. An example is the Richmond Football Club. “The Tigers ordered fresh food packs from us for their staff, and also gift boxes for family members of their players, who have been away this season in the AFL’s quarantine hubs due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions [that were] in place. “It was a nice touch to show they cared.”
The couple said the home delivery arm introduced into their business model will definitely continue and keep growing. “Even when COVID-19 restrictions [were] over and we [were] able to deliver fresh food to restaurants, catering businesses and schools, we [kept] home deliveries going,” Felsmann said. “Adapting to that model back when the first lockdown started from the end of March [last year] ended up being a blessing in disguise for us, because it’s been so successful, and people love it for the convenience, quality and choice.” Felsmann added the rapid growth in home deliveries has also enabled the retention of its hard-working team of staff.
“In March [last year], Simon had to sadly stand down several staff members, but he was able to gradually hire them back. Now we’re pleased to say they are all back, and we have even been able to hire an additional staff member. And for Simon and me, there has also been the added bonus of being able to meet so many wonderful people in the community who we now deliver to, including many new Jewish customers. It’s brought so many lovely people into our lives.”
Early N Fresh delivers Monday to Friday in Melbourne’s southeast. Customers have until 10 pm to get their order in for next day delivery. Visit earlynfresh.com.au