*Nicola Waters and Oisin Donnellan of Clare Fruit n Veg
Matt Waters Fruit and Veg is easily one of the most recognisable shopfronts throughout the town. Established twenty-five years ago following a niche within the marketplace, Matt’s Turnpike business is one of the most widely known fruit and veg retail stores in Ennis.
Deciding not to shut up shop throughout the lockdown, Matt took it upon himself to execute business with the utmost caution in regards to customers needs. A swift change facilitated itself under the guise of various customer delivery needs and requirements. A phone and collect system was set up, whereby customers could have fresh produce brought out to their car. A hatch system was also evinced, which had customers greeted with a box full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Topping off the three-way system was a phone delivery service provided for especially vulnerable and elderly customers.
Now with the gentle ease of restrictions, customers may once again access the shop through a dedicated one-way system to assist congestion and respect social distancing measures. Matt mentions the beauty of the reintroduction of valued and loyal customers into the store, noting the joy experienced by customers in recognising one another after a short, intense, reclusive period, particularly for the elderly cocooners. Matt annotates nothing short of courage in these customers, finding that once the right safety measures are put in place within businesses, then people are happy.
A touch of nostalgia takes Matt back to 1994, when his fruit and veg shop was the only business on the row. Since then, a warm welcoming hand has been extended to Champion Meats, The Health Connection and CS Fish. The communal aspect of life at Turnpike keeps spirits running high and Matt finishes off with a comment on the relationship between his employees and local shoppers who continue to augment a uniquely shared experience:
“Some of our workers have been there since day one. Most of them are pretty experienced. They know all the customers and there is always great banter and chat, which I love to see. In fairness, the customers do comment on our staff. The local community support us and the loyalty of our customers is something that certainly stands out. We want to thank all the customers for their business during Covid-19 and we wish that everyone stays as healthy as possible.”