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❤️  Debbie's customer stories

❤️ Debbie's customer stories

I've been wanting to write these stories for a while. It’s about some of the customers who have been part of my family's life. They're heartfelt. This first story triggered me to start typing. You may recognise yourself or a friend.

Kris H A long time customer of ours is now a resident at Arcare where our father Nick resides. I can’t describe the happiness it gave my father when he recently discovered she was now a new resident. Kris was also so happy to see him too.

I asked dad ”how do feel that Kris is here?” He replied “I feel at home”. He wanted to pay for her lunch, because that’s the gentleman he is, but the lunches are all paid for in our fees. I tried to explain it to him.

I brought dad figs from my tree and he insisted we go and give them to Kris, because he remembered that she loves them.

Kris was a biochemist at the Alfred. She is now 80, but he still refers to her as a "kopela" which means a young girl in Greek. I guess that is how he he remembers her, because that is what she was in 1960.

If she walks past, he makes me go up to her intentionally to say hello, so that she doesn’t feel alone. I think he feels like he should protect her because he has known her for so many years.

This week when i met Kris's daughter, she reminded me of how she loved it when dad would give her a granny smith apple wrapped in purple tissue paper as a little girl🍏

Kris' sister Kathy recalls with so much joy, about how the fruit and veges were packed in a wooden box and all the produce in paper bags. She loved getting home and helping to unpack the"gifts". She loved fruit and this is how she referred to the fruit in paper bags.

Dad said to Kathy," you lived in the house near the park "(Lucas St). "There was a big dog". Kathy stopped to think for a moment and remembered the big dog next door that bit the neighbours child on the face.

Jean Garrow and Margie (Pictured below in 2018) For me, Margie will be forever known as the beautiful lady as old as as our business. She was still in her mum's tum when Jean started shopping with us in 1960. All the locals knows Margie for her special talents, and the love she exudes. She is the perfect celebrant!

As a St Leonard student, Margie also got the opportunity to hang out with friends in the music room upstairs at our shop, with our older brother in the 70’s. Apparently those who reached the top of the stairs, had entered the the kingdom of "cool" ✌🏼

Jean has always been such lovely, refined lady. Dad used to let her get her own fruit, add up her own account and put the money in till (and take her own change).

For a very brief period, Jean took me to tennis lessons at St Paul's Church in Were Street. My mum desperately wanted me to learn Tennis but it wasn’t my thing!

Jodie R Every time I serve her in the shop, I get flashes of her mother Sue. Patiently driving my mother Nina around, about 30 years ago. She took my mother to many bathroom showrooms and tiling places because mum needed to renovate and adapt our bathroom for her early onset Parkinsons. It would have been a hard gig because mum was very particular about what she wanted and liked. I remember Sue at my front gate with mum in her car, popping by to take a peek at my baby- Sophia. She’s now 31. Jodie is always such a delight to serve.

Roz It was the late 90's and dad was telling us about this new customer that appeared out of the blue. I spoke to him this week and he remembers her as his 'best customer'. He also remembers her boys and her overall demeanor. Proud, strong, friendly and easy to deal with.

I also remember the exact day, like a movie in my head, when dad pointed to Roz who was getting into her car. He was so proud to tell me that she could drive a forklift and was very strong. She probably insisted on carrying all her own heavy boxes. It left an impression on me too. She has always been one step ahead of the times.

Sandy Cook a grandmother herself now, but remembers being a little girl and dad delivering to her. Sandy always came to our shop so well dressed with babies in tow. I even remember the gorgeous coloured hair pin her little girl was wearing, whilst she sat on the wooden bench in 1991. Even though she moved away recently, she always tries her best to shop with us when she can. Sandy always reminds me that we are the best in her eyes.

Evie Sheezel still shops with us. Her parents owned a beautiful high end childrens clothing company called Robek in the 60's. I remember the name so well. Evie's mother was kind enough to give me access to the range before it went out to the most exclusive store, Georges. She liked my mum a lot, and apparently me too.  I was dressed the best, and I loved being a little fashionista. My fave was the blue zip dress which I had in a several sizes! I loved this dress so much! Below pictured in 1968 with my mother Nina.

Joelene was one of the first to lovingly hand make baby gingham bunny rugs, which were first sold at George’s. Joelene gave me one for my first born which I still cherish. I will never ever forget being totally overwhelmed with the number of gifts customers gave me. It was endless. It was a sign of how loved my parents were in the community.

I have memories of people that have passed away or moved away....

Estelle your sweet voice I’ll never forget. When my mother passed away 28 years ago, I couldn’t look at you without crying. You wouldn't have known this.You reminded me of that connection with the shop and my mum because you were always popping in and out of the shop. You showed be around that beautiful home of yours in Halifax st that I always admired as a kid walking home from BPS. I felt very special that day. 

Frida  I remember when you tried to set me up with a Greek podiatrist in my early 20’s. You and mum had good intentions! Mrs Krum also tried to set me up with a Jewish boy too. I bowed to the pressure.... just in case. I have very fond memories of these two people too.

Mrs Zeleny Even though his days started at 3am, dad would go feed her cat on his way home at night, when she was away on conferences and holidays. She must have been a good lady!


We still laugh about he time that dad delivered a box of fruit and veggies for a customer. At her request, (she was working) he put the casserole on for her to cook for dinner.

Recently there was a lady who popped into the shop and started crying. She had been living in NSW for a long time, but the shop visit reminded her of her  visits to our store as a child.

There is another customer, who's name will remain secret. Dad tells the story of him as a little boy, pinching the comics from outside the shop in the 60’s.😂

Mr Lea and Mrs Brophy both had swimming pools which they kindly let me swim in as a teenager whenever I wanted. I could spend hours on end by myself just swimming. This I will never forget.

There are many more stories. I will try add them as I remember them.

In conclusion....

When I was young I was always astounded when customers would say I’ve known you since you were a baby. Time went so slow as a child.I just couldn't imagine that they knew me that long!

Now I find that I’m saying the same thing back to the children of our customers. It’s the most rewarding part of our job. Seeing them new born and then watching them grow into beautiful young humans.

I really appreciate everyone so much, our old and new customers. I feel so lucky to have lived this shop life. It’s so much more than making a dollar. It’s about creating life long bonds, memories. It’s about community.

in the early 80’s sometime, my mother wrote in green texta on the fridge wall “Nina and Nick retire in ‘87”. That seemed like a lifetime away.  I knew how terribly sad that we would make me, even though it might potentially mean more special time with my parents or a family holiday, which we never experienced. 1987 came and went. I am glad that they never really retired and I wouldn't change a thing.

That’s the small business life. I hope it lives on forever.

Debbie Argyropoulos nee Kondelos

Born 1963 

P.S. By coincidence, we pulled out the old books today, and you can see many of the people I have mentioned. You can also see how our old loyalty system is.  




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