What are the origins of your business? Where and when did it all start?
Our grandparents immigrated from Croatia and after years of hard work bought their first piece of land in 1942, literally setting down roots on a 28 acre orchard on Lincoln Road in Henderson, trading as Frank Boric. From there they grew and sold home-grown, hand-picked fruit out of their small roadside shed.
What do you know about how your family developed the business over time?
Our grandparents pretty quickly realised they had a knack at developing healthy trees that year after year yielded lots of quality fruit that people talked about. They decided they could do this on a much bigger scale and even saw the potential to export, so in the late 1960s they relocated to an 85 acre piece of land in Kumeu, trading as Boric Orchards.
My grandfather, along with my dad and uncle, turned what was just a bare piece of land into an orchard by hand digging and planting every tree. They even transplanted some trees from Henderson that 70 years on are still bearing fruit that we sell in the shop today.
Being on a main road also had the advantage of being in a great position to set up yet another shed to sell their fruit from, not knowing that in years to come this main road would eventually become a highway going to the city.
When and why did you and your brother get involved in running the business?
My brother Stefan was working as an accountant and I was working in finance and we just weren't feeling fulfilled sitting in an office, especially having spent our childhoods living on an orchard, climbing trees and driving tractors.
We noticed people were becoming more interested in buying local produce and artisan products, and there were food stores popping up around Auckland but nothing out our way in Kumeu. We thought our family had a unique location and something special to offer, with the fruit growing literally right outside the shop window.
We wanted to continue our family legacy but in a new way, so we approached our family in 2010 with a proposal to revamp the current fruit shop. We wanted to add a wider variety of food and change the whole interior. Our family happily agreed and finally in August 2012 Stefan and I hung up our suit jackets and relaunched the shop as Boric Food Market.
Ultimately, what factors do you think have helped the business endure over time?
I'd say the main one is we've kept the business in the family, so knowledge and experience have been passed down, not learnt from a textbook. I think people appreciate continuity and have trust in businesses that have kept the same name and are run by likeminded individuals.
Our parents and grandparents were always chatting to customers, serving on the till, carrying boxes of fruit to car boots - no job was too big or small - and my brother and I still operate in the same way. I think that's the best way to understand our customers' needs and wants and get to know the people who support us.
Also, we can cut out the middleman when it comes to the fruit and veges we grow, because our customers are buying almost straight off the tractor. We're probably Auckland's largest and last remaining family owned and operated orchard and market gardens still selling produce right on the soil where it's grown.
What plans do you have for the future of the business?
We're in the process of extending the shop into what was once our packing shed next door, and we'll be launching this new part at the end of October. A large central delicatessen will be the hub of the store, and we'll also be offering coffee to go, a juice bar using all the fruit we grow onsite, icecreams and a wider variety of kitchenware, gifts and dry goods.
To us food and family go hand in hand and we've wanted to create a place for families and foodies alike to come and enjoy. We'll also have a fruit-tree themed garden to explore and the kids can feed the chickens and sit on some old tractors, just like we did as kids.
Once this new part is up and running, in the future we'd love to be able to run outdoor market days and further promote our local growers.
Our history is extremely important to us, and we'll keep it alive in the new store by displaying photos of our grandparents and a timeline of events from the Boric family. We still pack our fruit in to 60-year-old-plus bushel boxes and these are also used as shelving throughout the store. Our heritage is still humming.