Rob Sayle, Robbie Sayle and Tyson Nash of Harvest Markets at Booval Fair.
Rob Sayle, Robbie Sayle and Tyson Nash of Harvest Markets at Booval Fair. Cordell Richardson

Retailer still enjoys fruits of his labour

A SPUR-of-the-moment decision to open a new business has led to 38 wonderful years of helping Booval shoppers purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.

Four weeks before Christmas in 1981, Rob Sayle went into negotiations to buy a fruit and vegetable store in the Woolworths Family Centre, now known as Booval Fair.

"I wasn't working at the time so I was looking for something to do," he said.

"I went into negotiations four weeks before Christmas, and we bought it within a week."

He started off with roughly 10 staff and was located at the front of the centre in what he called "a small igloo".

"There was the family centre, and a small arcade with about 20 smaller shops along the front. It was like a big patio with little igloos where the businesses were," he said.

"There was also a hairdresser, a video store, and a few other shops.

"Then with the redevelopment, we were down near where the newsagency is now.

"In those days, the shopping centres closed at midday Saturday and all day Sunday, so what the shopping centre managers did was put all the seven-day-a-week traders in the one spot with double fronted shops so we could trade from both the outside and the inside."

Mr Sayle is the longest-standing independent retailer at Booval Fair, with his store now near the centre's food court.

Today, he has around 25 people working for him, including his son Robbie Sayle and grandson Tyson Nash, making it a family-run business.

Working in the fruit industry was instilled in Mr Sayle from a young age, as his father opened a fruit and vegetable store in London just after World War II, when he was four years old.

Having operated out of the centre for so long, Mr Sayle said he has come to know many families in the area.

"Booval Fair is a really nice shopping centre. It's very family orientated," he said.

"It's also a really nice centre to work in.

"I know a lot of people in the community. I often see this one lady who worked for me as a 16-year-old, who is now a grandmother."