Boatshed celebrates 30 years
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.
“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.