Popular fruit and veg market stall marks 25 years at the heart of Gosport and Fareham
A COUPLE are marking a quarter of a century in business – and say they still love running their fruit and veg stall as much as the first day they started.
Perry and Sandy Leon run Leon’s Fruit and Veg, a fruit and veg stall that appears at Gosport Market on a Tuesday and Saturday and in Fareham on a Monday.
The stall started in 1996, inspired by a long family history in the fruit and veg trade.
Perry’s dad Joe and his grandfather Nicholas were both greengrocers – so was Sandy’s dad Tommy Gallagher, who used to run the same pitch that Perry and Sandy trade from today in Fareham before he died in 1986.
And it seems that the fruit and veg trade is well and truly in the family blood, as it also passing down to another generation, with Perry and Sandy’s son Steven also running a popular fruit and veg stall in Locks Heath and Chichester.
With lockdown hitting their business, forcing them to close, and then meaning less people were at the market when it was allowed to reopen, they have found the past 15 months tough.
However, they managed to survive by setting up a delivery service.
Perry, a dad-of-two and granddad-of-five, said: ‘For us, it has been hard, trading and then not trading, in and out.
‘During lockdown it was our daughter Cassie who saved our business, without a doubt.
‘She took our business online, set us up on Facebook and we starting doing deliveries.
‘The year has been awful, but two things saved us – and that was being established and having such loyal customers, plus having such high quality produce, much better than the supermarkets.’
Luckily with the restrictions easing and the use of social media helping advertise and promote their business, they are back on track running the stall three days a week – and they are hopeful for a brighter end to 2021.
Perry, who lives in West End, said that despite being back at the markets as usual, they have carried on doing a small delivery service – which they hope to expand.
Perry said he was thankful for the support shown from his loyal customers.
He said: ‘We have seen a lot change in 25 years, and it’s been good to us. We haven’t gone without, put it that way.
‘No one knows what will happen with the future of the high street, but we are lucky to have such great customers.
‘It is not until you reflect that you realise how much has changed. If you would have told me a few years ago that our business would be reliant on taking debit cards and doing deliveries, then I would nevr have belived you.’
With summer in full swing, Perry said his bestsellers are his strawberries, which he gets from places such as Lymington and Somerset and sells for as little as two for £2 depending on their availability.
He said his goal for the future is for their business to survive and even maybe last for another 25 years.