On my first day in the Wodonga store, I thought I had won the jackpot. I felt for sure I’d be shoved back in the deli, where I was never appreciated. Was totally surprised when the new boss introduced me to the Merchandise officer as her new assistant. Oh, man! Was I in trouble? Merchandising was more about using the other side of the brain, certainly not the creative. This was going to be a real challenge for me because I had left school just before I turned 14 years of age.
To explain why? Let us go back to where my self-esteem took the biggest hit.
Just before my 14th birthday, I had been sent to Mt Newman in WA to live with Betsie. When we first arrived Betsie decorated my room with a new bed cover etc to make it look nice which I always loved. In the earlier days, we seemed to get on fine. I was even able to have a stray kitten stay but had to keep it in my room because they had a dog. It was strange coming out into the unit as it wasn’t home but felt happy in my room. As for my schooling, I found out Victoria’s rules were different and I could leave at the age of 15 and that is what I intended to do. In WA I would have to complete two more years. I hated school but will leave the reasons why for another day. Expressing how unfair that was, the headmaster said if I got a job and did a night course; I didn’t have to go to his school. It was the early 70s and I was in a new mining town where the only entertainment was the pub. Everyone gathered there for meals and a chat, even the few kids in town were welcomed with adult supervision of course. Therefore it was easy at my age, (cheap to employ) to get a job. I eventually started work in the local supermarket as a casual fruit & veg assistant. I was paid fortnightly, and Betsie insisted I give her half my pay for my room and board. She tried to get the supermarket to have my full wage put in her bank account because of my age, but luckily they wouldn’t. I had to sign for it. So at least I had $30.00 a fortnight. But $15.00 a week didn’t go far when you had to buy your clothes and most of your food plus pay for night school.
In Betsie’s defense, she was only 19 at the time, and taking on a young teen who she barely knew would have been a tough gig. And to make it worse, I was a chronic asthmatic, and soon learned the money I paid was mostly for my room and didn’t include much food. Not that she ever said that but the table was always set for two and I was ignored if I walked in on her and her husband while dining. When my friends came it was meals all round so I liked it when we had visitors. If I wanted breakfast or lunch, I would go with Betsie to her friend’s place, and there I would get a cuppa and a sweet biscuit. Two, if I was lucky. So, being hungry and sick most of the time, I couldn’t have been a very nice kid. But didn’t deserve moments like; going shopping and trying on a pair of jeans and a top I liked. Surprised when Betsie swooped in and picked them up and paid for them. Gobsmacked she had paid for clothes for me. She never had before. I wondered what the occasion was as we drove home. As always there was total silence between us but that was normal now. She never found me interesting. Not that I could ever get a word in edgeways when she did talk. Not that her talking was a bad thing, she just never cared enough to ask why I had given up trying to make conversation. Mostly these days I just sat and listened and was getting too good at tuning out the constant chatter that had nothing to do with me anyway.
So, I’m sitting and waiting for her to come out of her room to give me my gift she must be wrapping. But what! She walks out with them on and tells me she is going out for a bit. How did she fit into my size? It was only then had I noticed how much weight she had dropped over the last few months. Now I got why there was never any food. She had been dieting to fit into my clothes. Chuckle, what clothes. I had an old pair of jeans I had brought with me and wore baggy old underwear. So doubt that was the reason. Oh well, one mystery solved.
Lady luck sends me a friend
Luckily, for me, I found a friend and due to his high principle on how to treat a young girl, we were just friends. He was a couple of years older than me and became my everything. Took care of me and nursed me through my asthma attacks, made sure I had food, and was my rock in those earlier dark days when I fretted for my old life. Having my own friend pleased Betsie. She was free again. I guess that’s why she was really nice to him. So he became my guardian and I learned how cars worked, how much fun they could be, and all about beer. But like anything good that comes your way, it sizzles out and the flame will die if you become too needy. He became my first love and wanted to be with him all the time, but he didn’t feel the same and I drove him away. It was to be a love affair that was off and on for the next year, almost two before I finally walked away for good. It’s too hurtful staying with someone who is with you but wishes for someone more. His biggest worry was my inexperience in life (I was boring and girls who had travelled and had stories to tell attracted him) and also I scared him because I wanted a child, only one, and had her name already picked out. He never wanted kids. So during one of our off-again moments, her mum came for a visit. After so long she seemed a stranger. She and Betsie were so loud and never stopped talking and laughing. They were so boisterous trying to outdo each other that even a closed-door didn’t drown it out. Talk about the clash of the titan women. 🤭🤣🤣
Betsie’s mums visit.
I was 15 when her mum came to visit. When it was time for her to go home, her husband said you got yourself over there, get your own self back. So she stayed. But now it was permanent, Betsie began to show her mean side to her too. So finally, after a year of her neglectful treatment of me, I yelled at her. There was a two-way girlie catfight through an open car window for a few seconds. Definitely, some hair pulling, scratching, and a face slap. I was a mess after, and although I had feared her, I didn’t like her treating her mum like it, too. Of course, I got kicked out, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine. I had been drinking, smoking, taking too much asthma medicine (which was 5% alcohol), forced to beg friends for food, and was a goddamned mess. It was time I cleaned up my act and tried to stop drinking. It might have dulled my unhappy side, but had made my life worse.
Thing was, it was easier to sit at a pub and score a beer and pack of smith’s chips than at a fast food venue. You could sit all day at a takeaway shop and get nothing. Just the way it was!
Living on the street
On the street at night was scary so took up my boyfriend’s offer (yes, we were on again) until I found a place to live. My friend would sneak me into the SMQ (single man’s quarters where he lived) at 11 pm and at 6 am I had to sneak out. In the morning I followed him to the mess and he would bring me out an egg roll before heading off to work. I didn’t start until 9 am so it wasn’t hard to fill in time while waiting. After my next full pay, I found a place to board and cheap enough to afford. And I got meals. But Betsie made them kick me out. They were her friends. I was back out on the street again.
I guess her mum believed Betsies fibs about who hurt who in the end and what the fight was actually about. Bet she didn’t tell her mum the argument was about her. She had caused her mum so much grief she had come to me in tears. Broke her heart to me at the pub, only moments before the catfight. Her tears were hard for me to deal with. Later, when sober, I realised I was not a family member, so not sure why I went into bat for her. Booze is not good when you are one so young. My room was all I had, and now it was gone too. It was the last time I would ever get between family squabbles. If that was family I was staying well away from them from now on. My family hadn’t written or contacted me since my move to Newman, and in that year and a half, I had only had two gifts, no money. A Citizen watch for my birthday and a record of Michael Jackson’s Ben. You don’t forget those things when they are all you get. What happened to maintenance? Didn’t exist for me.
Betsie’s mum had said to me once when she first arrived to stay with us; what happened to you. All you do is sit on the floor with your head down and never talk. What happened to that girl your family knew who used to sing and tell jokes? She asked this while Betsie sat next to her. I wished, looking back, I could have yelled at her; I was sent away at 13, I’m 15 and the man I love doesn’t love me back and as for the rest, ask your daughter why. But there was no mean streak in me back then, I just smiled and ignored the question. So, not surprised it turned out this way? I was hiding poor treatment of myself even way back then. My family, Betsie, and a guy who kept me on a string. No wonder as an adult I was able to keep secrets so well.
But that aside, after the fight with Betsie, I didn’t remember seeing them unless of course, they came to the pub, and I was drunk and forgot. But one day I heard Betsie had left her husband. She said he was abusive. So, her mum and Betsie took off to Perth, and I was left in Newman.
From the fat into the frying pan.
By then I had found a family who took me in but an attempted rape by the other boarder and their dad who wanted me to sit on his lap was a bit too creepy. But I endured it to have a roof over my head and cooked meals at night. Once again, to stay living here was another bad life choice but knew the alternative. Had been on the streets and it was no fun. The dad being strange should have been warning enough others in the house were too. One night, the boarder come into my bed in the middle of the night. Did I fight him off? You bet I did. Told him I would scream the place down if he didn’t get off me. After that, I stopped having a personality with those around me too and only spoke when addressed, which didn’t help me learn and made me terribly uninteresting, but it kept the wolves at bay, and it allowed me peace for the rest of my time there.
As for night school, it turned out typing was not my forte, so never applied for any secretarial work. I had busted my little finger as a kid and it was set crooked. That finger never hit the right key. It hit two, so I didn’t make the cut as far as they were concerned.
Memory lane over.
The diversion was about me explaining why I didn’t think I had near the skill level, confidence, or common sense to learn how to be a merchandiser. Although hoped I could wing it to keep my job.
Supermarkets were diverse, and I kept to the departments as they were more about the display and I could always find a position to tie me over until I moved again. Which I did often before having my daughter. But OMG, I didn’t know until joining the grocery Merchandise team, supermarket housed such a boring job. I was academically challenged and yet I would literally yawn while checking the prices off from this big monotonous pad that didn’t end. It was an enormous book of pages we sat on the trolley and used it to check every item in the store was correct, and I mean every item and every week. Kill me now!
Other duties were to change weekly prices using a plastic stick they called a plucker. The computer-generated tickets were slipped in a data strip between two bits of clear plastic. The only way to get them out quickly was with the plucker. Other duties like deletions and new lines had to be actioned, and the specials were a nightmare. Every item on sale was flagged, and the stock pulled out and remarked at the special price. No scanners back then. And if the item was a lower price already, we couldn’t put a higher price over a lower one so all previous stickers were peeled off before a new price could go on. Oh, and then there was the checking for out-of-date codes because lazy night fill couldn’t be bothered rotating and so it went on… And on. With no computerised equipment either, it was all done by hand. So, the jackpot turns into the who gives a jack, I’ll give you the tip.
My only thrill over the next, what was the longest year of my life, was when I would be called to register. Those moments were blissful and so refreshing. And as a store, we would dress up in all our colours (hairsprays, ribbons, and all) and attend register operator awards. Can’t remember the exact name of the award, but all the store’s fastest register staff would compete and the winner got a trophy. It was a big deal and with my friend Katie who worked in the dairy; we went one year as the challengers. Loved it. Think Katie won something once, but mostly we all just went to support other staff. Best fun ever.
Tying the knot or not trying.
It was 1980, and my daughter was five when me and her dad set off to the registry office to get a marriage license. He had his sister- and brother-in-law as witnesses. None of my family attended. Some were in WA and a few were close by, but none of them were currently talking to me. 70% was due to me staying with my partner, 30% was me not caring anymore. I had not been around family much growing up and didn’t really know any of them, and they didn’t know me, only what they had heard. As time went on, when I was around one of them, I got caught up in their arguments and usually blamed for their wrong choices instead of them owning up to them. It pushed me away, and I didn’t try to stay. I take full responsibility for that and anything I did, but to take responsibility for other’s meanness, no way. My cross was big enough to bear already.
As for my partner’s part in all this, he had burnt his bridges with them because of his violent temper. We moved over to WA when our daughter was 6 months. But it only lasted a year because he bashed up my sister’s boyfriend for sticking up for me in an argument and another time, king hit my brother. I lost it after this last attack and frightened of retaliation and fear my daughter might get hurt in the crossfire of family rage; I begged my partner to let me take her back home to Wodonga. My partner was never scared of anyone but agreed with me about keeping our daughter safe. He had a job, and his plan was to get a second-hand trailer to bring our furniture across. Follow us over in a couple of weeks.
I moved in with dad in Albury until my partner arrived. I found it tough to live as I had no money. I couldn’t get unmarried mothers. Even though I explained my partner was not with me. They didn’t believe that. This forced me to stay home and in exchange for room and board; I did all the washing and ironing, cleaning, and cooking. Dad only gave me $20.00 a week and with that, I had to live… Not! That money was used to do the shopping and feed him, my 11-year-old sister, and me and my daughter. For play money like going to the pool, me and my little sister would collect bottles and fill up the pram and cash them in. I thought everything was going okay and dad even complimented me on my cooking some nights.
I hadn’t heard from my partner for almost three months. But there were no mobile phones, and not everyone had a house phone. Although dad did, I was never game to make a long-distance call. I was doing okay and thought all was well, but dad didn’t think so. Guess he didn’t want to have us live with him any longer. Understand, I was a sick kid growing up. I cost my parents much worry and money, so once I turned seven, they both sent me off sometimes to stay with either a nanna, aunties, or later, permanently with Betsie. I guess they needed a break, lots of them. One of my elder sisters said years later it was to get me away from pollen during spring, but they were big spring breaks. So, looking back at this moment, it must have been spring again, and dad needed another break. Chuckle. And because they are both gone, I will never really know if that was the reason.
Anyway, dad rang up my partner and told him it was time to come back and look after his own family. So, my only chance to break free was gone. (My fault, I never had the guts to bring anyone into the mess I was in thinking I was protecting them.) Everyone who stuck up for me in the past always got a sucker punch or worse for their troubles. Fear does weird things to a person.
I did hope his return meant he was prepared to change and put aside his violent temper. If not, I was doing okay without him and would do okay if he didn’t come back. But he returned, and I was yet to learn promises are hollow when spoken by a compulsive liar. Dad would soon regret that phone call. It was only a couple of weeks later when dad got in the middle of an argument. I had left our daughter with my younger sister so I could go out and have a coffee with my dad and his business partner. Yep, Dad got king hit for interfering and well, we got kicked out of dad’s house. It was messy and involved a court order to get our furniture, but it eventuated with a police escort. After that, I had no one left in the family and didn’t blame them.
I have taken you too far down memory lane. I only wished to explain why none of my family attended my big day. So, let us get back to the event.
That date chosen came around quickly. I had searched for the perfect dress, which was a flowing chiffon light blue. Didn’t want to wear white, as I was no virgin, and my partner agreed. Before long I was standing in front of the justice of the peace, sweating like a pig on a spit, and I never sweat, and all the while getting told by my soon-to-be husband to stop fucking fidgeting. And the more he growled, the more I fidgeted and perspired. All the photo’s ruined by sweat marks.
So here I am, finally dry and not sweating anymore, standing in the middle of the dance floor. We had just been joined in matrimony and had gone to the club to seal it with a meal. We had finished and sitting on my own watching others enjoy themselves; I had been called up to the dance floor by the singer of the band. They wanted to mark the moment with a wedding waltz set up by our witnesses. Like an idiot, while all eyes were on me, I waited until the song began, hoping he would come, but not. Even as others came onto the dance floor, so I wasn’t alone, I just stood there. Finally, I sat down, my mind in turmoil. What had I just done? Why did I marry him?
It turned out Mr predictable was in the bar kissing an old flame he had met while getting a drink. Those who knew us could not wait to report back to me. Think that was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I felt sick to the gut and left. So that was that. We were married and although it didn’t work out how I imagined; I was feeling blessed my daughter could confidently begin school without ridicule. I did what needed to be done to be a good mum and just blocked the two-timing twit out of my mind on Monday when I went to work. Forgive him, I think I did when he was nice again for a while, but forget he broke my heart… again. That would take a few decades! Maybe never.
Work was a welcome relief.
The store manager was hands-on, and when he caught a yawn or two from me, he would drag out pallets of stock for me and Katie to fill the shelves. We used noisy-clunking pricing guns back then. The triggers were squeezed rapidly on and off, both firing off tickets and racing each other. Both so competitive, we would have a full pallet marked and put away in no time. Biscuits, dairy, anything he could find us until all the deliveries had been put away. Then, laughing at having so much fun, we were sent for a break. Both enjoyed the shit out of that game. But then in the afternoons it was back to boring and was glad when the clock struck the hour of knock off. You know that feeling. The last fifteen minutes go so slowly and you’re itching at the bit to blow that task and leave for the day. I have to admit though; it was most entertaining when the Merch manager was on holiday. Doing her work too, I got to see how little she did.🤭😃
I then pondered as I walked past the one manned deli, how come they had to work so hard when other departments got help to yawn up the isles. Didn’t seem fair, and so glad it was not me in there. Even then I still felt the embarrassment of getting a warning in the other store, and no matter how hard I tried to make up for my error of “fringe girl” was positive, at my old store, there was no hope of ever becoming the deli manager. At least here I was appreciated and apart from sometimes, I really enjoyed my new position.
Here, it wasn’t so anal, and we could have a laugh and play some practical jokes without “big brother” looking over our shoulder. I still smile thinking of one instance when I walked into the tearoom and was tossed a little pink round ring in a packet.
“You know what that is?” The older girls were giggling.
“Of course I do.” I laughed and threw it aside. Lucky for me, one of the young register girls walked in and they tossed one to her, taking their attention off me.
She held it and frowned. “What’s this?” She looked up and everyone laughed and fell over each other, thinking it was so funny.
They asked me to tell her, and I secretly went crimson. Just then, someone walked in behind her and looked at it. “It’s a condom!” She joined the pack of funny bitches, laughing.
I was in my early twenties and never seen one. I had only been with one guy, so never thought about using them. But now I know better, should have used them every single time with my cheating partner. But talk about a save finding out they were condoms by someone else. At my age, they would have never let me live that moment down.😇🥰🤣🤣
Over time, I was referred to as the boss’s pet, which made me fair game to be made fun of. I had different ones try to upset me, but only once did someone make me cry. I mean, sobbed so disgustingly hard I wanted to die each time I remembered it. I had veins in the back of one of my legs from all the hidings as a kid, which knocked my hips out. Mum stopped dad smacking me when I was up on the box one day doing the dishes and my backside and legs were bright red and a varicose vein had appeared. Later in life, one grew into more and got worse after having a baby and being on my feet all day. It never worried me until people started commenting and made me embarrassed. It was suggested a Chiropractor might help when a doctor wouldn’t send me to get them looked at, and after quite a few visits, the Chiro said I could have a baby now as my hips were back in alignment. I chuckled. ‘I already did. She is five.’
He was shocked, ‘how did you manage that!’
‘With difficulty, and lots of numbing drugs.’ I shook my head at his horror.
It was a day when the merch manager asked how I went at the surgeon’s. I had persisted to get my veins stripped and finally got an appointment. I had just finished telling her the surgeon said not to worry as I didn’t have a good set of legs anyway, that I should just concentrate on my hair and face and no one would even look at them. I was devastated by the comment and hoped by confiding my shame, my workmate would make me feel better. But oh no! “Look at my legs,” she insisted. “mine have a lovely shape to them, not like yours. I can understand what he means.” I’m still in shock at her comment when a co-worker walked around the corner hearing our conversation and looked down at my legs. “yuk! You’ve got veins, they look disgusting.” He says, “Why don’t you go fix them?” He shuddered, not obviously hearing I had tried.
Devastated, I did what every person does when it’s so personal. Went out into the cool room and cried. What was worse, someone dobbed about what was said when I couldn’t pull it together to go back to work. I was even more ashamed now that other workmates were aware of my yucky legs too. But I still kept blubbering like a god-darn baby. The boss dragged me up to the office and after chatting to me for a bit I calmed and after, for the life of me I didn’t why that comment would have upset me that much. Once the boss was sure I was okay, he let the co-worker in who had upset me the most. He couldn’t have been more genuine in his apology, so forgave him. It has been the most significant thing I’ve learned over the years is to forgive and forget. Hanging on to hurt just hurts. Stuff that! Funny, I still feel silly about causing such a scene, but sharing, anyway. As there is always a reason for everything and looking back as I write this, it was a meltdown but one I needed.
Little did I know destiny was setting me up for another big adventure. Such a huge release might have been needed or I could have passed up an experience that leads me to half a lifetime of sweet, hilarious, and light-hearted moments in time.
A friend’s betrayal.
Since leaving the Lavington store, each weekend I would get a visit off the deli staff and it would be a total bitch fest on my old Deli Manager and how they were all poorly treated. I tried to give friendly advice to calm it down, but it fell on deaf ears. They had become my friends and although I cared; I wasn’t in Deli anymore and it became overwhelming. I just wanted it to stop and for them to leave me to my own issues. But the only way to do that was to do as they nagged, speak to the front-end controller who supported this deli manager from hell. So, as a ditch effort to get rid of the issues, I went over there and as always; she didn’t believe a word that I said and wasted my time, but at least the girls stopped telling me stuff. knew I couldn’t help. Yay for me. However, the head deli girl had taken a liking to my partner and came to a few parties we had. The regular weekend parties were a little idea I came up with the keep his highness home drinking instead of going to the pub. At least I could monitor his roving eye. Well, that didn’t work. My deli friend was crying this night about who knows what and wouldn’t talk to anyone else but my partner. OMG seriously. The oldest trick in the book. So, I caught them in the bedroom; him cuddling her while she talked. I had downed a wine which gave me some Dutch courage, that had me march to the spare room and kick her out. I never saw her again. I much preferred my friends to be male gender after that night. I could trust them.
Change is in the air.
It had been a week and hadn’t seen the Deli manager. Found out she was on maternity leave and it didn’t look like she was coming back. The boss was in a flap and came to ask if me and Katie knew of someone with some deli experience. Or if either of us wanted to go in the deli to help him out for a week or so. Katie was like, no way! She didn’t even give him a chance to finish. I was honest with him and said I had worked in one but got a warning in the last store while in the deli, so to count me out, too.
He inquired why. I was embarrassed, but it was about work and he would find out anyway with one phone call. So shared the fringe girl debacle. He reacted, not how I expected. Wasn’t happy they gave me a warning for doing what was the right thing. He immediately left. I guess to check out my story. Saw him through the office window. He was on the phone for a long time.
Later that day, he called me up to the office, and we discussed it. I liked the guy; he had been so good to me I felt I owed him and finally promised to help him out for a couple of weeks until he found another deli manager. Let him know in no uncertain terms I wasn’t all that experienced and he better find someone soon. No way did I ever want to work that hard again. And the pay was better as a merchandise assistant.
The next day I am dressed in a white uniform, apron, and paper hat. (Which I hated). No customers came to the Deli that day and getting the okay to do with it as I wished, I kept busy by pulling out the stock from inside the case and relaying it. Using the order book as a guide to find out the better sellers, opened up some products and closed down others. It took me all day but was much happier with the layout by knock off time. It was Lent and finding some smoked codfish fillets in the freezer; I searched in the storeroom for a tub I could use to freeze some water. Each morning it was normal to throw the ice tub on the floor to break it up a bit and smash the rest with a hammer. Yep, it was caveman-style ice and very noisy. Found what I was looking for and after filling the big white tub half full of water, I put it in the freezer and, after cleaning the slicer and benches, left for the day. Was shocked to be told they placed a damp sheet over the case to keep the food from drying out overnight. Eeek! That would have to change. I was yet to learn about expenses and how we had basically no money to spend. Mmm, have to think about that!
The ordering was a worry at first, but working in the Merchandise department I was accustomed to order books and after the first few phone calls I had it down pat. From her ordering pattern, I come up with a black label figure which was used in the grocery department. Placing it in red on each product itemised I merely had to count what was in stock, minus that off the black label figure, and what was left was what I ordered. Felt please, I had been taught something I could use elsewhere.
That next day, all setup and ready by the time the doors opened, I was pleased I had quite a few customers. Working on my own was fun. No one looking over my shoulder, no one knowing a thing about deli to chastise me made me even happier. I could start liking this!
A goal for the future.
I kept waiting for the new manager to arrive and take over, but she/he never turned up. After a few weeks, I was asked if I wanted the position; it was mine, and I was on a three-month trial. Told my boss I’d give Deli another go for his sake, but after three months if I didn’t like it or he didn’t think I was any good, I made him promise I could have my old job back. The deal was done, my wage went up a fraction and I was the new Deli Manager. The sales were less than the previous deli I worked in and with time to experiment and come up with ideas to improve the layout; I enjoyed working with food again. Displaying was so much fun and getting friendly comments from the customers about how fresh the deli looked gave me the confidence I was doing something right.
After my three months trial, it was while here in this store I met the state delicatessen manager from Melbourne. All the deli managers in the area spent a full afternoon over in the Albury Deli while she taught us better cool room and cleaning procedures. Nothing about the display but wow, was I impressed. I went back to my store and told my workmates I would love to be in that position one day, and they all laughed. Thought I had gone mad. “Never happens to country people like us,” they said. “You must live in Melbourne to get chosen for those sorts of positions.” But I had a new dream, and no one was taking it away from me.
In the meantime, I settled into life behind the counter and enjoyed every moment. Taking the display to the next level was a nightmare at first. Learning about each product and dreaming up how to sell it came with its challenges. Then I had a breakthrough. It all started with a trip to the airport cafe to see someone off and I noticed they displayed their pastries etc on cabbage leaves.
Back in my deli, I washed and oiled leaves cut from the whole cabbages. In the white bowls, I placed them in the dish, lined them with a sheet of plastic deli wrap and put the salads we used to make ourselves into them. Wow, it sure brought the fresh potato salad and coleslaw to life. (No, there were no salad suppliers back then) It wasn’t easy to do while busy. But I did manage to boiled spuds to make potato salad the next day. And on the slicer, shaved cabbages and capsicums, and grated carrots by hand in the afternoons, ready to make coleslaw in the morning. Putting the salads in leaves had picked up the sales, and I was doing up three big white tubs during the busy trading days during the week. Even tried making watermelon and onion salad and pasta salad which sold okay too. That was when I realised nice displays sold the stock and went one better, decorate the tops of the salads in a corner with fresh lemons or oranges sliced fancy and a dot of freshly washed parsley. Even experimented with cutting the end of a celery stick and radishes, leaving it in the cool room until it looked all curly and fresh.
Over the next couple of months, I also started making my own dips to sell, displaying them in the leaves and even made fruit cheese rolled in nuts using the cream cheese we used to sell called Neufchatel.
Other ideas popped into my head like when I saw decorated Christmas hams in magazines. I simply pulled off the skin, scouring the white fat and added cloves, sprinkled with nutmeg and then finished with pineapple rings, fresh parsley and glazed cherries. They cooked theirs. But mine, I glazed with gelatine to keep the ham on the bone staying fresh all day. Every second day, to keep it fresh and rotated, I stripped the one in the case. Cut all the fat off and sliced for sale after doing up a new one for the case. The only issue was, I didn’t know how to successfully cut, ham on the bone. It was messy but sold. At least I was helping the dairy clear the overstocks.
Another time I put in a full run-through of ricotta accidentally over-ordered. Sliced some strawberries and added freshly washed parsley to each and they all sold in one day. Crazy sales like that started happening, and I loved learning what drew a customer to the display.
It came to my attention, Olive varieties shrivelled up quickly if not kept under the brine. Experimented and did a test run to see if they sold better in the oiled washed cabbage leaves covered in plastic. It worked. However, to keep them fresh, I added brine and oiled the tops with olive oil that sat above the brine. It worked a treat on a smaller display of only a few varieties. And had no more complaints about dry olives. In saying that, the antipasto’s now available, it would be a nightmare to display like this. The varieties are many and they are stuffed or mixed with peppers etc, making them more of a delicate product.
I also ordered in better quality from suppliers, and put up advertising material like “Don is good.”
I nagged for a Rotisserie to cook the chicken to help increase sales, which I got. And it did.
Even tried some shaved meats but didn’t display them right so they didn’t sell. Scrapped that idea.
Put blue coloured food die in the water to make blue ice. Displayed fish on clear deli shrink wrap so the fish didn’t get stained.
And spent time on the salami rail filling the hooks up with Don Kabana, hot and mild smoked sausages and a variety of salamis and hanging Italian cheeses.
The top of the case displayed portions of halva and long-life products. Enticing many Dutch customers too by introducing their favourites such as smoked spec and Kaiser flesh.
Remember this was the early 80s. I do grow.
We had increased the Deli to $6,000. I thought I was busy in Lavington. There were three of us doing three grand in my previous deli as we thought that was tough… Not! Now three of us were running a six grand deli. How much further could sales go with three staff I pondered? But I was to learn it could and would be possible to do much more.
But for now, my road to supervision was my new quest, and I wasn’t slowing down. I just needed to work out what further additional steps would take me there because there was my dream job.
Deli Girl Out!
To read more stories from the storytelling cougar go to my book link at the top of the page.
Thanks for visiting my twisted deli blog. To leave me a message about this blog or other, click on the link below. It has to be approved due to advertising nuts who love to put up links to Viagra etc. But will get onto it asap. Have a great day all. 👍🥂🥰