Barry Gazeley (left) and Marty Hay in their Dunedin produce
store. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Barry Gazeley and Marty Hay are the Veggie Boys.
And while their official slogan is "for affordable fruit and
vegetables" their real motto was "we're getting too old not
to do things", Mr Gazeley said.
When the business partners opened Veggie Boys, in Cumberland
St, Dunedin, late last year, it was the fulfilment of "a bit
of a dream".
Business has been brisk and the pair already have plans to
open two further sites, in north Dunedin and Mosgiel.
"It's a thing we needed to do, to take a gem of an idea you
talk about for so long, to make it work. And to really work
for you, it's incredible," Mr Hay said.
"We always thought that it would go good but we weren't quite
sure it would go this good," Mr Gazeley added.
Expanding to more stores was not the initial idea - they set
out to "finish a dream" - but the demand was there, they
Both men are in their 50s and a lot of people could not
understand why they would open a business at their age. But
age was not a deterrent.
The pair, who had known each other a long time, had talked
about it for many years.
The time came when they were both ready for a change and, as
they were getting older, came the realisation they had to do
some of the things they had talked about.
Mr Gazeley had spent most of his working life in the produce
industry, and Mr Hay had been in retail.
They knew the industry and what was required and they knew
there was an opening for such a venture.
People were looking for fresh, affordable fruit and
vegetables in a central location that was easily accessed.
There were four staff, including themselves, when they opened
in December and numbers had since grown to 18 full and
Mr Hay looked after the administration side, while Mr Gazeley
looked after most of the produce buying and display work.
They made decisions together.
"Either one of us could have done it on our own. I don't
think it would be as much fun, to be honest," Mr Hay said.
Both born and raised in Dunedin, the pair were passionately
Otago - "rugby and all".
Their preference would be Otago-Southland sourced product and
they welcomed approaches from growers in the region.
They were both firm believers of being hands-on in the
business and while their aim was always to earn a good
income, they wanted an enjoyable workplace.
They believed customer service was one of their strong
"They [customers] are your bread and butter. If they don't
come through the door, you don't pay wages. A lot of people
have forgotten the customer."
Their main focus was trying to "give people what they want,
not what people think they deserve", Mr Hay said.
It was normal for the pair to work 12 or 13-hour days "but
it's because we enjoy it", he said.
Every decision they made, whether right or wrong, they were
responsible for and they enjoyed that they were not
answerable to anyone.
"We talk. We both know our jobs, what we've got to do to make
the business work. We're too old to lose now," Mr Hay said.
And as long as business remained fun, there was no need to
retire, they agreed.