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The love Cameron and Elysse Renouf have for Leeston sparked the idea to leave their jobs behind and venture into something entirely new and different: a grocery store.
“We saw a need for it in Leeston at the beginning of last year and we love Leeston, so we wanted to help give something more to this town and keep it growing.”
Many locals were asking if a fruit and vegetable store could occupy a building advertised on Facebook in the Leeston town centre.
New to the grocery store business and operations, qualified builder Cameron and flight attendant Elysse listened to the locals’ cries – opening The Leeston Grocer in March 2019.
“We worked really hard to find some local producers, learn all about markets and learn all about fruit and veges.”
Cameron sources a lot of his products locally, bringing in tomatoes, broccoli, courgettes, corn, carrots, onion, potatoes, beans, cherries, free-range eggs all from within a ten minute radius of Leeston.
They also sell bread from Leeston Bakery The Paan, Popular Beeswax Wraps from Dunsandel, soaps from Leeston’s Move2Eco and the popular Roan milk from Darfield.
The Leeston Grocer has a loyal customer base average of 700 a week and aim to reduce plastic waste by using brown paper bags.
For their efforts last year they were awarded a gold in sustainability by the Lincoln Envirotown’s Selwyn Responsible Business awards.
“We try to be different, we try to be personal and the word grocer I think reflects that you are coming to a shop that is a family business and you are going to get to know the people behind the counter and they are going to get to know you,” Cameron says.
The motto “Grow local. Buy local. Support local.” is plastered around the store and Cameron says there are three reasons why it is important to source locally.
One reason is quality, as most of the groceries are grown in Selwyn soil and haven’t been hauled on trucks for several days, therefore arriving fresher in your grocery bag.
This also means there is a reduction in the carbon footprint to deliver the groceries.
“I don’t think people realise how much is actually produced around here and how many farms there are.
It’s great to be able to go on a drive around Selwyn and pick up most of the vegetables and bring them back to the store,” Cameron says.
Sourcing local is also a way for Cameron to give back to the community and grow it.
“When you’re shopping with us, you’re not just supporting me and my family, you’re actually supporting all the businesses that we supply off.
For small businesses to stay in a town you have to support them, it’s not easy against big corporations. The more you support businesses the more the town will grow.”
As well as supporting local business, The Leeston Grocer is involved in the community by donating to Leeston charities such as Plunket, supplying to the local school, hospital and supporting local events.
Having lived in the area for the last three years, Cameron, Elysse and their two-year-old daughter Matilda have been a part of the community growth and have embraced what it is like to live and work in Leeston.
“It’s an awesome little town and I want people to come out here. You sort of get to that Selwyn bridge and it’s like the rush of the city is gone and everybody seems friendly out here.
This end of the street was dead when we moved here three years ago and now the whole town is alive and buzzing.”