Nathan and Angela Imlach are celebrating the 10th
anniversary of the Mediterranean Market in Queenstown.
When the Mediterranean Market opened in Queenstown a
decade ago, it was a venture ahead of its time, co-owner Angela
For not only was a specialty retail food store being opened
in a town with a relatively small population, but also such a
venture ''hadn't really been done in Auckland properly'', she
The move was driven by increased demand from the people who
would regularly turn up at the Imlach family's wholesale
premises to buy their weekly supplies.
In 1994, Nathan and Angela, Grant and Nadine, and Nathan and
Grant's parents Ron and Pat Imlach bought the Queenstown
It initially supplied fresh produce to local hotels and
restaurants but, as word spread, the business grew and within
two years they had to move to larger premises.
Wholesale customers increased and the business expanded to
supply firms as far afield as Wanaka, Te Anau, Milford and
Aoraki/Mt Cook, skifields and Antarctic cruise ships.
In 2001, the family, along with Brendan and Sharon Wilson,
opened the Wanaka Wholesale Market.
Two years later, Queenstown Wholesale Market entered into a
supply agreement with Christchurch-based Mediterranean Foods
and Wellington-based Mediterranean Warehouse, rebranding the
company as Mediterranean Wholesale Market.
Soon after the rebrand, the family researched the idea of
opening a retail store to meet increased demand from the
Angela Imlach recalled how locals would park in the car park
among the forklifts and B-trains, wander around among the
chillers and staff putting together orders, pick up their
fruit and vegetables and their porcini mushrooms, olive oil
and other ''bits and pieces'', before going to the makeshift
Following research of local markets and producers and
suppliers from around New Zealand, the Mediterranean Market
opened its doors at The Junction on Gorge Rd in November
The following year, the family expanded once again, opening a
retail and wholesale operation in Te Anau.
In 2005, they sold the Wanaka and Te Anau retail wholesale
operations and the Queenstown wholesale business to
multinational company Bidvest.
The Mediterranean Market, which now incorporates a
delicatessen, cafe, imported Italian food range and a
homeware department, is owned and operated by Nathan and
Grant and Nadine Imlach now live in Queensland where they
have a produce business. They recently purchased an adjacent
The Mediterranean Market had been all about learning, both
from staff and customers, and the business had continued to
evolve, Angela Imlach said.
''People that get it understand they are lucky to have it.
And they give me ideas. We do a lot of listening,'' she said.
While they were ahead of their time when it opened, there
were now other alternatives to supermarkets. They had ''hung
in there'' and made it work ''and that doesn't always happen
in Queenstown'', she said.
She believed the secret to their success had been hard work
and also being ''people people''.
''I think we get the best out of staff and give the best we
can to our customers.''
The biggest challenges for such a business was consistent
staffing, which was a ''Queenstown thing'', and also
As much as possible was sourced locally and they had been
buying off many of their suppliers for 19 years.
The business employed 17 staff. A full-time nutritionist had
recently been employed to take charge of product development
and also on the shop floor helping customers.
For those who chose to live in Queenstown for the lifestyle
it afforded, the only thing that could ruin it was being
unhealthy. More of the public was now ''really well
informed'' and looking for quality produce, Mrs Imlach said.
Growing up on a farm, she recalled how good food just came
naturally and the family always ate well. That had continued
when she had her own family and, like her mother, she never
skimped when it came to food.
Mrs Imlach loved living in Queenstown, which seemed to
attract dynamic, open-minded people.
''Most come here to have a crack at it, just like we did,''
''I get to deal with some really switched-on people. They
really appreciate what we do for them. These people get it,''
There were continual improvements planned and made. There
were lots of things going on that the public did not see,
whether it was a catering order for a private jet, platters
for scenic helicopter flights, or orders for luxury lodges.
''There's all of those other things going on around the
outside to make it work,'' she said.
The Imlachs made a good team, with their respective skills
complementing each other. Mr Imlach was involved in the
finance, computer and produce side of the business, while his
wife looked after staff, products and marketing.
One of her customers recently commented that she still looked
as she did on the day the Mediterranean Market opened - full
of enthusiasm. And she still had the same enthusiasm for the
business as that day, she said.
''I'm very fortunate . . . but I do believe in creating your
own luck. The good thing is every day is something new. Every
day there's a new challenge . . . it's never dull,'' she
A 10-day celebration of ''all things foodie'' was planned
next month to mark the 10 years in business. Festivities will
get under way on November 11 when customers will be greeted
by a 10-tier, metre-high birthday cake crafted by the
market's long-time baker Jenny Lamond.
There will be free tastings each day and suppliers from
throughout New Zealand would offer insights into their
products, provide recipes and educate customers about ''good