Our customers: The Harvest Market crowd
“Hey, Fish Man, how’s the basa?”
It’s the boss’s standard greeting to this guy.
Fish Man is Chris, from George Town Seafoods, and he usually drops down to our Harvest Market stall before 8 on a Saturday morning.
We have a theory he sleeps at the market site, because he’s always set up an hour earlier than everyone else and has plenty of time to wander around with his coffee and say hi to the other stallholders.
We’re pretty sure basa isn’t part of his offering, but what does have drags them in, and he usually has a queue lined up well before the bell goes to start selling at 8.30.
Rod and Chris say hi, exchange excuses for why they weren’t at the gym this week and Fish Man continues on his rounds.
Now it’s 8.30 on a Saturday in Launceston and it’s the relative calm before the storm.
A few regulars shuffle in.
Only “shuffle” is the wrong word because most of our early birds are out on a mission, many of them already stocked up from other stalls.
There’s the lady who zips past most Saturdays to pick up her weekly fix of Smoky Garlic Halloumi.
Then Running Man and his little girl drop in. They’re usually after a piece of Traditional Halloumi after their morning run.
Great people, but they don’t hang around for long. They’re off and running.
The Foreman and his wife often come past early too. The Foreman, so called because of his stint on jury duty, likes to browse, gradually working his way through the range over weeks.
$10 Man cruises in about 9.30, maybe a bit before.
It’s close to “happy hour” and you can hear the market start to crank up.
$10 Man usually goes for Raclette, although he occasionally branches out and grabs some Pecorino.
He is one of our favourite customers and spends $10 with us every Saturday.
Mind you, we have to give value – it’s no good giving $10 Man a $9.90 piece of cheese and 10 cents change.
So, $10 Man invariably gets a $10.40 piece of Raclette for his $10. Usually we pretend it’s a bad deal for both parties but he keeps coming back. And he’s always up for a chat.
Teacher tries to sneak by in the growing crowd, travelling incognito under his hat.
We spot him slinking past and we shame him – so we think – into stopping.
He’s after some Gruyere: “I’ll have a piece of Groo…oor”” is the standard request. Depending on supplies at home – and whether he thinks he can sneak it into the fridge - he’ll add a tub of Wasabi Persian Fetta.
Ben from 40 Degrees South is another stallholder who often drops by.
We know what he’s after.
“The biggest piece of Gruyere you’ve got,’’ he says.
If we’re on the ball – not easy with an early start on Saturdays – we’ve probably tucked a big piece aside for him. The other half of Ben’s team is the big Gruyere fan.
It’s not just other stallholders we see: many of the market volunteers are also customers. The support for our business is one thing but the market just wouldn’t happen without them.
By now the market has hit top gear, when it seems just like a frenetic rush of customers as we move cheese as quick as we can bag it.
But it’s also when you realise how much fun market can be after the chores of preparation and setting up are behind us.
It’s our time of the week to be face-to-face with customers – and get instant feedback on our products - with all the socialising that comes with it.
In a brief lull, we get to that part of the day we’ve been looking forward to since 6.30. We visit Raelene in her Delicious Little Things caravan for the best sausage rolls. Looking forward to those sausage rolls is all that keeps us going some winter mornings.
Another regular customer, Fiona drops by to pick up her haul. She likes quite a few out of our Alpine range.
Like many of our regular Harvest Market customers, Fiona is a familiar face although we only got to know her by name when she did a factory pick-up.
Late in the day, Watch Man – he always pays with his watch – rolls in with his baby in a pusher. The baby gives us a smile while dad makes his selections.
He’s a regular, so is baby.
One visit we look forward to the most is from Halloumi Boy.
Halloumi Boy is about three years old and there almost every week for his hot sample of Halloumi from the pan.
His mum always buys a piece of Traditional Halloumi.
One week she apologises for her language skills - she’s originally from Russia - as she multi-tasks bag, cheese and managing a small boy.
We explain her English, which is basically perfect, is a heap better than our Russian.
Another week Halloumi Boy came in with his dad, who made the mistake of not being sure which of our two Halloumi styles his son loved.
Halloumi Boy soon put him right.
Halloumi Boy devours his sample, thanks us with impeccable manners as usual and heads off with his treasured piece of halloumi.
By now, the market is starting to wind down and, with the final bell, we go into pack-down mode.
It’s also the time when we have to start working towards next week.