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Antonietta and her husband Rocky Caccavo own and operate the Tasmanian Grocer established in 2014. They are both first generation Italians who have a profound passion for food. Their journey began in the Coal River Valley in Tasmania in 1996. The Caccavo planted approximately 18,000 olive trees at the Olive Grove in Campania. It has now become the largest olive grower in Tasmania.
Their deep passion for food is inevitable from the beginning. “Food is in our blood”, says Antonietta. It is the reason for where they are now. They decided to establish a retail store to showcase their love of Tasmanian Produce and sell their Olive Oil. Now, Camberwell is the current home of the Tasmanian Grocer retail location.
Husband and wife team Antonietta and Rocky
A unique brand
Antonietta expresses, “The brand is ours. No one else has it. I am confident it will not outdate and we are super proud of it”. Tasmanian Grocer started out as a fresh little challenge for the couple who wanted to expose their brand to the rest of Australia. Antonietta and Rocky had to start the whole process from scratch. “We did it all ourselves”. As a couple, they state that “passion and drive” is the key to a successful small business. Rocky is known as the “business guy”. The brains behind the Tasmanian Grocer. And Antonietta is the expressive creative one behind the brand.
The Tasmanian Grocer’s mission
Antonietta and Rocky’s main business plan idea for Tasmanian Grocer was always online hamper sales with a sophisticated visual twist. With little retail experience, a firm decision was to concentrate mainly on the hamper idea. The online hamper store is now showing signs of progressive success with the added bonus of corporate interest in our brand. This is why they thought to give retail a go! The Tasmanian Grocer opened in November 2014. Opening a retail store was the best way to showcase our brand with a visual, presentation and encouraging the locals to support a small business. It is a risk that they were prepared to take with the option of diversification and readjusting the model, as they moved forward with ideas that did and did not work.
All products are tried and tested by the Caccavo family
Products on offer
Antonietta and Rocky work closely with various growers, producers and makers to bring to the Tasmanian Grocer brand a variety of products. Included on the generous list of Tasmanian Grocer brand are jams, relishes, chutneys, sauces, biscuits, candles, wines, ciders, pastes, walnuts, honey, crackers, freeze dried fruits, pates, scallop pies, cheese and the list continues to confidently and progressively grow. All products are tried and tested by the Caccavo family. Confirming the quality and consistency is something that they stand by.
Marketing the brand
When they first opened the retail store in Melbourne, Antonietta and Rocky began promoting and spreading the awareness of their business through simple and basic marketing techniques. They began advertising in their local area; placed ads in the local newspaper. The role of social media played a key part. The visual aspect significantly helped them to attract customers. As with any small business, any action undertaken is a trial and error case. Eventually, people heard about the neat little new Tasmanian Grocer down the road. Antonietta says that “word of mouth and the scallop pies drew customers to the store”.
Issues facing the business
Some of the biggest issues Antonietta and Rocky have faced with are that people weren’t always walking in the door to necessarily buy produce. It took time to gain the confidence and trust of the customers not only to purely come for the experience of a mini Tasmania in Melbourne, but actually shopping and purchasing what we had to offer. That is something to keep in mind when starting a business in retail.
Another issue the couple dealt with was cash flow.”Don’t underestimate. Don’t assume you are going to trade. You have to work very hard”, says Antonietta. You have to always be prepared for days when you don’t have a busy day of sales. This is why Antonietta stresses the importance of having online presence. She says, “Everything is online these days. You have to move with the times”. It is essential to show your customers who you are and what you have to offer. Social media is also embraced as the perfect way to showcase their brand.
Why become an entrepreneur
Antonietta pointed out “freedom of creativity” is part of why she became an entrepreneur. “If it doesn’t work, move onto the next idea with confidence”. Being able to produce something unique is what drove Antonietta and Rocky. “We have a point of difference. We have control over the impact of how things roll in a business”. For Antonietta, it’s all about making a living out of her passion for Tasmanian produce.
One piece of advice for future entrepreneurs
“Unless you’re prepared to be present, to start with it is going to be tough. Work side by side with your staff to love what they are doing as much as you do. Invest your time and effort in training and support and always lead by example. A lot of heart and soul goes into bringing what you love to life and keeping it there. The minute you give up, it all falls back. Passion is important!”