IN THE BEGINNING
After World War Two Arthur Wilson purchased 30 acres of land at Warrenheip.(10km east of Ballarat). He planted apple trees on half and established a market garden, growing cauliflowers, cabbages, silverbeet, pumpkin and carrots on the remainder.
The produce was sold to a local merchant but a certain amount was sold from a tractor and trailer parked on the side of Ballarat Road and from the packing shed.
Arthur, and his wife Barbara, soon established a reputation for top quality tasty apples and excellent vegetables. The demand for these wonderful fruit and vegies soon out grew the trailer and the packing shed.
THE NEXT PHASE
In 1977, when son Trevor Wilson left school to work in the orchard and market garden, the opportunity to open a small shop was realised. This was built on what was then a single lane road to Melbourne. The Wilsons home grown produce was supplemented with produce purchased from the Melbourne Wholesale Market.
Initially trading for only several days a week during the apple season, the business continued to flourish, serving both local and travelling customers. By 1984 it was necessary to employ the first full time staff member and open all year round.
It was common for many Ballarat residents to make the trip out to Warrenheip to stock up on their fruit and vegie supplies for the week.
This shop was extended 3 times before Vic Roads indicated that they would not provide access when the Ballarat bypass was constructed.
To compensate for this, land at the corner of Western Highway and Brewery Tap Road Warrenheip, adjoining the existing market garden was purchased. A purpose built retail shop and warehouse facility was then opened in 1992.
Significant growth occurred in the ten years Wilsons traded at this location and in 1997, Wilson Fruit & Vegetables was awarded the Melbourne Markets Regional Fruit and Vegetable Retailer of the Year.
THE NEED TO MOVE
Again doubt arose over access to the premises at Warrenheip, so a significant decision was made to open a store in East Ballarat. And in August, 2002 the present premises in Mair Street opened.
This presented the opportunity to expand the range of products to include specialty breads and biscuits, cheeses, pastas, jams, sauces, puddings, muesli’s, freshly squeezed juices and of course the ever popular Greek Style Yoghurt.
A delicatessen was added in 2004 and extended in October 2005, adding even more produce to the gourmet products available from Wilsons Fruit and Vegetables Store. Modifications to the store continue to occur to accommodate the stores growth.
THE FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE
Throughout this journey, the Wilson family have always focused strongly on providing exceptional customer service. All staff are provided with a induction program that focuses on the Wilsons Vision of “providing an enjoyable shopping experience in a bright and exciting environment with excellent quality product and the best possible service.” Servicing our customers is always our focus.
This customer service also extends to ensuring we have fresh produce in the stores on a daily basis for both our retail and wholesale customers’. These visit to the Melbourne Wholesale Market occur, using our own Wilsons vehicles, which include a semi and a 10 tonne truck plus 4 delivery vans. To compliment this, in 2013, a new storage shed was built at Ballarat North to accommodate these vehicles and to provide supplementary storage for the business.
2014 sees the next phase of the development with the opening of a second store at Ballarat newest suburb, Lucas. Welcomed into the newest suburb of Lucas we were apart of the community for 9 years. During this time we met incredible people and faced something retail would never believe imaginable, a pandemic. Sadly in the May of 2023 we made with heavy hearts the decision to close our Lucas store.
THE WILSONS FAMILY
Wilsons is still family owned and operated, with Trevor and Kay Wilson the current Directors of the company along with their children Melanie and Peter who operate the grocery purchasing and business operations.
Wilsons has always had a strong family presence with all of Arthur and Barbara’s children, son in laws, daughter in law and grandchildren having worked in the business at some point.
The family are very proud of the legacy left to them by Arthur and Barbara Wilson.