Boat­shed cel­e­brates 30 years

POST Newspapers - - Letters - By DAVID CO­HEN

Michael Pem­ber and Craig Skead look at a lengthy quote by Walter Chrysler ev­ery day.

The words from the Amer­i­can au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try le­gend start with “The real se­cret of suc­cess is en­thu­si­asm”, and end with: “En­thu­si­asm is at the bot­tom of all progress. With it, there is ac­com­plish­ment. With­out it, there are only al­i­bis.”

The quote is in the staff area of Cottes­loe’s Boat­shed Mar­ket, which cel­e­brated its 30th an­niver­sary on Wed­nes­day.

“He was a very smart man,” Michael (64) said of Mr Chrysler.

“That quote epit­o­mises what we try and do.”

Craig (55) agreed: “En­thu­si­asm, that’s what it’s all about.”

How do you stay en­thu­si­as­tic when a lo­cal ma­tron is shout­ing at you be­cause she thinks the finger limes are un­sat­is­fac­tory?

“We don’t get a lot of those,” Craig said.

“It’s re­ally about hon­esty. “You ac­knowl­edge the prob­lem and sort it out.

“With the amount of pro­duce we sell, there’s go­ing to be the oc­ca­sional soft ap­ple.”

The shop sells fresh pro­duce. There’s also a bak­ery and a deli, meat and fish sec­tions, flow­ers, cheese, and, since March last year, an up­stairs bot­tle shop, all crammed into about 750sq.m.

“If we had more space we’d do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently – for ex­am­ple, a full-scratch bak­ery,” Craig said.

“If you leave a square me­tre empty Michael will fill it up.”

The shop’s best-sell­ers in­clude their own tomato salsa Craig said they sold around 600 con­tain­ers each week.

“That was a Boat­shed first when it started about 20 years ago,” he said.

“At one stage we were get­ting 200 re­quests a week for the recipe.

“But it was a se­cret we kept for many years.”

An­other Boats he di ni­tia­tive was a meat dryer us­ing Hi­malayan salt bricks.

“We im­ported them from Pak­istan,” Michael said. “I sent $US6000 to a bloke there I’d never met, with my fin­gers crossed.

“We still com­mu­ni­cate with him to­day.”

Part of the Jar­rad Street shop’s ap­peal are the reg­u­lar tast­ing events, and the free in-store sam­ples.

Michael said the tast­ings helped com­mu­ni­cate ex­cite­ment about food and drink.

He said staff didn’t po­lice the sam­ples.

“If we put them out, they’re for peo­ple to en­joy,” he said.

“We’ve al­ways strived to find the best.”

Boat­shed, like any re­tail busi­ness, has sho­plifters.

Craig said the elim­i­na­tion of plas­tic bags made it harder to iden­tify thieves.

“It’s never easy to ap­pre­hend some­one,” he said. “If they have paid, you get left with a fu­ri­ous cus­tomer.”

Both men said a key part of their en­thu­si­asm was staff.

“We had our first 15-year an­niver­sary this week,” Craig said.

“Our full-time staff are very loyal.

“[For big an­niver­saries] we give them a big fancy cheque and pay our dues at the an­nual staff Christ­mas party.”

A for­mer staffer was Terri See­ber, who started work­ing at Boat­shed’s fish shop when she was a stu­dent at St Hilda’s.

“She set up the Wine Loft and was our first som­me­lier,” Craig said.

“She’s now in the UK get­ting the rest of her som­me­lier re­sume. Our new wine ex­pert is Louise Pe­man.”

Michael and Craig go to food shows in the US and Sin­ga­pore, visit New Zealand (“they have very good prod­ucts”), and go to the bi-an­nual Aus­tralian food show.

“We’re con­tin­u­ally re­search­ing, but you have an idea where things are head­ing,” Michael said.

Both men cook. Michael whips up Wagyu steaks and Craig makes paella or von­gole.

The men were tight-lipped about Boat­shed’s fu­ture.

“We’re al­ways look­ing to im­prove our busi­ness,” Craig said.

“We’ve got big ex­cit­ing plans in place. It’ll make us dif­fer­ent to what we are now.”

The mar­ket was started in 1988 by Michael and John Travers when the big in­dus­trial build­ing re­ally was a boat­shed.

One of Aus­tralia’s most fa­mous yachts, Aus­tralia II, was built in the boat­shed, as were some of the chal­lengers for later races.

When Alan and Eileen Bond drove tri­umphantly through Cottes­loe on their way to Perth with the Amer­ica’s Cup in 1983, the cav­al­cade halted by Wards boat­shed to pay re­spects to the win­ning yacht’s builder.

Craig owned su­per­mar­kets in his na­tive South Africa and re­placed John as a partner in Novem­ber 2000.

The busi­ness chose the POST to ad­ver­tise its new and spe­cial pro­duce each week, mak­ing it one of the long­est-run­ning ad­ver­tis­ers that has never missed an is­sue.

Photo: Bil­lie Fair­clough

“The cus­tomers know there are no short-cuts” … Craig Skead, left, and Michael Pem­ber in Boat­shed Mar­ket’s up­stairs Wine Loft – four con­verted and partly-re­frig­er­ated ship­ping con­tain­ers.

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