Gather York Written by Amber and Fi
Gather York is your local specialty grocer, based in York WA. Sourcing quality fresh produce, bread, olive oil, honey, specialty provisions, flowers and other kitchen goods Gather York will ensure you can enjoy your favourite dish or try out that new recipe at home.
Owned and operated by Amber and Fiona, two local women, who love good food, cooking and catering for friends and family. They use and focus on local, Wheatbelt and WA produce, loving nothing better than telling customers the story of the food they are purchasing, from paddock to plate.
“We both put a lot of importance on family, friends and good food and love nothing more than combining all three! And now we get to do that every day, with our exciting new business, Gather York!”
Amber and Fi grew up on family farms in the Great Southern. Amber is originally from West Arthur, and Fi from Kojonup. They loved their childhoods helping out parents on the farm, riding horses, and indulging in the freedom that went with it. After high school and uni in Perth, both were attracted back out to the regions to work. Amber is a teacher in Wagin, Byford, Northam, and Fi working in health promotion in Northam and Albury (NSW).
“Both of us get so much satisfaction out of doing our bit to help rural communities thrive, so to now be contributing positively to the small business scene in York is very rewarding”.
How did the story for Gather York Begin?
“Mother’s Group!” The girls grew up 90km from each other but only met in late 2019 when their daughters brought them together. Fi’s daughter Bonnie is 3, and Amber’s little Grace just turned 2. Call it a coincidence or fate, not long after they’d met, they happened to hear that the owners of an existing fresh provisions store in York were retiring. There was an opening in the market and three months later, Gather York was created!
“We realised just how much we had in common during our second meeting, with the same dream of launching a gourmet grocery store and catering business.”
What have been some of the most significant learning curves since starting your business?
“There is never enough time!” It is true what they say about always working in your business and not having the headspace to take a step back and work on your business. Being used to having many strategy meetings in previous careers, we fit in more ‘CEO Days’. This is an ongoing goal the partners know Gather York will benefit from.
“Having the courage to say no!” Being a new business, the team are constantly approached to run different events. In the beginning, they always said yes, but could see they were being stretched too far and not doing anything very well. Each proposal is now assessed to decide whether it fits with the vision for Gather York.
“Less is more, as they say. Identify and communicate clearly what your vision and point of difference are.”
Working in partnership is not always an easy thing. What are some of your biggest tips for achieving this?
“You know that feeling when you find the one? Well, that is how we feel about our business partnership.” From their first discussion to the present, 19 months into the business, their partnership has been easy. Luckily, they have so many things in common and similar ways of doing things. When they disagree, they trust the other person knows what is best for the business. Knowing each other’s strengths is useful when delegating tasks. Working in a busy kitchen is a good test for any relationship. “So far, we haven’t dropped a dish!”
“Having more face to face meetings would be ideal, but using online project management tools like Trello help to ensure we are on the same page when life gets a little hectic.”
How did COVID affect your business, if any?
The first COVID lockdown occurred six weeks after launching Gather York. “GASSSPPP”. The girls started to learn how to operate a shop front and quickly had to consider what was best for their community and themselves. They were very relieved to reopen the shop doors! As an essential service, they could have remained open. However, with so many unknowns with COVID-19, they decided the safest thing would be closing the shop doors, setting up an online store overnight, and operating as a Click + Collect grocery shop with local delivery options.
“It was manic, Easter 2020 was a blur, but it was exactly what our community wanted and ended up being a good boost for our business in its first six months.”
As RRR Women, what would be your most significant piece of advice for becoming a business owner?
Find your business family.
Membership should include:
- people who are in similar businesses
- people who are starting out in business at the same time
- people who own an existing business targeting the same demographic as you
- people who have skillsets you need
- people who give you honest feedback
- people who cheer you on no matter what
“Talk to them, ask them all the dumb questions, trial new products with them. They will save you from making mistakes and help pick you up when you trip.”
What is your hope for the future of Regional Small businesses in a post covid world?
“We hope COVID has taught the consumer the importance of supporting local.”
The girls suggest that when the borders close and you can’t travel to the bigger centres to shop, you rely on the smaller local stores. If they aren’t being supported now, they may not exist when you need them most.
They believe that collaboration is the key to survival. They value supporting York and surrounding town businesses; stocking products, hosting their workshops, partnering with them for giveaways.
“Businesses need to evolve and change to survive and supporting each other to succeed is a good outcome for the whole community”.