Who are we?
Most of the time you will be dealing with me, Becky, for deliveries and at markets. I have over 10 years experience selling greengrocery and over 5 years buying experience. I have an RHS certificate in Horticulture which gives me a grounding in growing methods and environmental issues. This certainly helps make more informed buying choices. During busy times you may encounter one of the other family members:
-Brother, Andy (he may look like a pirate with his moustache, but he's fine!)
-Mum, Chris (the one who knows how to cook it all)
-Son, Jett (the apprentice)
-Dad, Keith (you probably won't have Dad deliver to you, his sense of direction is hopeless!) So that's us. We hope to meet you soon!
How it all came about:
The Collards story begins in earnest under the name of Oaks, in February 2012. Not an ideal year, given the awful weather and worse economic climate! Especially given that our business vehicle at the time was a bicycle and trailer that my mechanically minded brother had put together out of bits we could beg and borrow (we drew the line at stealing)! As you can probably tell, we are not talking big budget set-up here. We worked on the basis that no one would notice the home-made nature of our stall if it was covered in beautiful, fresh fruit and veg. And so it proved.
Getting the ball rolling:
Not having much of a budget for anything, let alone advertising, this was a gradual process. As it turned out, there were enough people who agreed with me that good quality fruit and veg was hard to come by, for us to build a group of regular customers. Our progress is best illustrated by the vehicle history: 1- Bicycle and trailer with occasional back-up of my Morris Minor. 2- Skoda Fabia Estate (complete with electrical hiccups) and Dad's trailer. (Bets were frequently placed by fellow stallholders on whether everything would fit in at the end of a market. It always did, even if we did have leeks stuck in the door pockets!) 3- Nissan vanette named Dilly. (Not our choice of name. A previous owner had used it for their business Dilligaf. Or to give it it's full, slightly sanitised name Does It Look Like I Give A …..Fig.) Our first van, better for my back, if not my eardrums! 4- My slightly dog-eared but dogged Transit. At last the right tool for the job! Who knows what we'll need in the future!
Why the change to Collard's?
I had worked for Oaks greengrocers when my son was small. When we were offered the chance to take over the retail side we took it, so we kept the name to keep costs down. The plan was always to rename the business after my Grandad when the opportunity arose. He was Bob Collard, the gardening expert on BBC Radio Kent for many years. He was my first link to all things that grow. The last slide in his lecture presentations was always me, sporting pigtails, surrounded by his tomatoes and Fuchsias in the greenhouse. Naturally, his closing remark to accompany the slide was “And finally, the biggest pest in the greenhouse!”. Given my ethos of supplying good quality produce, some of my suppliers probably think the same now! Grandad only had daughters and sisters, so the business seems a fitting way to keep the Collard name going. Particularly as a collard is a heartless cabbage!