IT WAS a family business which opened in the 1960s but it has now changed hands.
The Local Fruit and Veg in Nobes Avenue, Bridgemary, will now be run by local couple Wendi Prosser and Stuart Hawkins.
The pair have taken over from Monty Richards who has been involved in the business for 47 years, first of all helping his dad and then running it himself.
The shop was bought by his dad Vincent in 1967 and they used to grow the produce at their home in Shirrell Heath, near Wickham.
After a couple of successful years, they bought another shop in Rowner which Monty used to run.
They would deliver their produce to takeaways and restaurants in the area.
But, more than 40 years after he started, Monty decided to retire and celebrated his final day on Saturday.
The 66-year-old said: ‘My dad bought the shop and we used to grow all the produce to deliver to food businesses.
‘We then had a shop in Rowner which I used to help run too. We used to grow all our own produce and it was great.
‘But when my dad sadly passed away 17 years ago, he left me the business and I worked out of the Nobes Avenue shop.’
When his dad died, Monty stopped growing his own produce but continued to deliver, until 18 months ago when the labour got to hard.
He added: ‘I had to stop the deliveries because the produce got too heavy. I wouldn’t retire if I didn’t need to.’
Despite being sad about retiring, Monty is looking forward to a few holidays. He added: ‘When I was working, it was difficult for me to take time off.
‘So now I am retired, I am looking forward to going on a couple of cruises and holidays.’
New owners Wendi and Stuart, from Bridgemary, were regular customers of the fruit and vegetable shop.
When they heard it was closing, they wanted to do something.
Wendi, 42, said: ‘I was told the store was going to auction and I was sad because I love using a local fruit and veg shop.
‘So, I spoke to Stuart and he agreed that we should buy it.
‘We have never owned our own business before so it took a while to figure it all out but we are up and running and have got a regular flow of customers.’
Monty was pleased when he found out the new owners wanted to keep the shop as a fruit and veg store.
He added: ‘We had lots of interest from people wanting to turn it into a takeaway but I’m happy that it will remain a fruit and veg shop.’