April and Fady El-Azzi.
April and Fady El-Azzi.

Fruit and vege shop responds to cruel social media comments

A BUNDABERG small business is calling for a fair go after an online furore over the price of celery.

April and Fady El-Azzi run Start Fresh Fruit Market, a wholesale grocer, on Maryborough St.

But recently a Facebook post on the internet slammed the couple's business for selling bunches of celery for $15.

Mrs El-Azzi explained the price of the celery was due to soaring prices from markets, along with some price increases from farmers who had been hit by fires, compounded by the massive demand cause by panic buying.

Mrs El-Azzi said her family business was paying $11.80 for a bunch of celery and had to add some form of mark-up.

"We're copping a lot of abuse," she said, adding that even the couple's 13-year-old daughter had been the target of anger in their store.

"We're trying to support local and Aussie farmers."

Mrs El-Azzi said they were trying hard to keep prices down for their customers and had even sourced local lettuces so they could provide them at a reasonable price.

"There were some really nasty comments," Mrs El-Azzi said of the Facebook posts.

"One guy was accusing us of price gauging.

"One guy did back us up and said Coles and Woolworths can do $5.90 because they buy tonnes of it."

Mrs El-Azzi said they'd recently taken on the business and had worked hard to encourage customers to feel happy, and even if they wanted half a stick of celery, they'd sell it to them.

"We're doing everything we can to keep business going in these tough times," she said.

"If people don't work together, what's it saying in the world?

"People are being so rude to each other, it's a bad circumstance but it's really brought so much aggression out.

"We've really worked so hard on gaining customer confidence."

Mrs El-Azzi said many products in their shop were at a reasonable price and that fruits had not been as affected by vegetables in the current situation.

The couple is also looking to start a delivery service in case they can no longer run a shopfront because of covid-19.