It is some time since we had a fruit and veg shop in Boundary Street. Today, the three Harris brothers, Tristan, Angus and Luke, launched their family-run Harris Farm Markets at West Village.

The markets are certainly on a scale we have not seen before and sprawls over much of the ground floor of the old Peters Ice Cream Factory.

Tristan Harris told me they selected West End for their latest store because of its relaxed vibe.

“We find demographics like that tend to have a lot of people who really care about food, and love food. There’re quite a large number of people with a European background in the area and we find that gives people a keen eye on quality and an interest in finding more unusual smaller brands. So we figured that there are a lot of our kind of customer here in West End.”

In the months leading up to the opening, calls for staff went out on social media, and Tristan Harris confirmed today that they had hired around 120 local people to staff the store.

As to local concerns about gentrification and the loss of smaller independent retailers, Mr Harris said Harris Farm Markets has 20 stores in Australia; two in Queensland.

“In context, we’re 1/100 of the size of Coles, so we’ve always been the little player: it’s unusual for us to now to be viewed as something like a corporate. This is still very much a family run business. We are a fruit shop by our very nature. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. I think that over time, if we provide the right offering and humbly asked people to give us a go as the local fruit shop, locals will come to accept us,” Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris said they intend to make food shopping fun.

“We want to reconnect people with the joy of food. Somewhere along the line, we got to a point in our society where our least favourite activity of the week is grocery shopping. And then on the weekends people go to farmers markets for fun.”

“We wanted to change our fruit shops into places that were just a beautiful, fun fresh food market.”

As well as fruit and veggies, the market has a bakery, a butchery, and a fishmonger.

“Another thing that we’re famous for is our cheese. We have ‘cheese lane’ with nearly 600 varieties of specialty cheeses, and cheese lovers are able to come and hunt out the cheese that they won’t find anywhere else.”

The Harris brothers stock honey on tap, and organic fruit and vegetables. A vegan section with a range of plant-based protein and protein meal alternatives is also on offer. They hope to reduce farm waste by carrying a line of ‘imperfect picks’: fruit and veg that might not look perfect from the outside but are OK on the inside.

Produce from local suppliers including Sol Breads, Roza’s Sauces, CJ’s Pasta, My Berries, and Woggoon Farm honey will be part of the mix.

Several other speciality stores, and some well-known local retailers, have recently set up shop at West Village, including optometrist, ‘For Eyes Only’, and Tanos Chemist, now known as Terry White Chemart West End.

And there are more to come, including Betty’s Burgers and Anita Gelato.

Cover image: Tristan, Luke and Angus Harris. All images by Jan Bowman