A peek inside a flourishing Melbourne bulk wholefoods store – and the couple who brought it to life
For Brenda and Terry Teh, a passion to lead a healthier life and empower others to do the same fueled a life-changing decision – to ditch the corporate world for a new venture in wholefoods.
Working in management roles in the banking and mining sectors, the pair both found that in times of stress, their health was the first thing they neglected. Frustrated with the struggle to achieve work/life balance, they called it quits and invested in a bulk wholefoods franchise, The Source, and set up shop in the inner Melbourne suburb of Prahran.
Why did you decide The Source was something you wanted to become involved with?
Having come across the concept in Byron Bay and Sydney, it was difficult to believe that such a food obsessed city like Melbourne didn’t have a specialised bulk whole foods store. We instinctively knew that this was something that Melbourne would absolutely love. It made sense as this was where we would definitely choose to shop if the option existed, so it seemed like an obvious choice at the time.
Why do you think the bulk food concept works so well for wholefoods?
In my personal experience, when cooking or trying new healthy recipes, access to healthy ingredients and the cost of buying a package of every ingredient I needed made it very expensive and time consuming to shop. A bulk food store stocking most ingredients needed in many recipes is a great enabler to help people create delicious, healthy meals.
Also, our zero waste model ensures that our customers are not only saving money by buying exactly what they need, but kinder to the environment as well. Customers are consciously making the decision to reduce single use packaging when they bring in their own reusable jars and bottles and they love having the option to do that.
“A bulk food store stocking most ingredients needed in many recipes is a great enabler to help people create delicious, healthy meals.”
What are some of your best-selling products that have surprised you?
• Paleo Muesli – this is a premium product that is 100% organic and we expected it to be a niche product for our Paleo customers. As this is incredibly tasty and healthy, it’s attracted a strong following beyond our Paleo customers to a much broader group of customers (pretty much anyone)!
• Carob Bananas – we did not anticipate that a carob product would be so popular, but these dried bananas coated in carob are really something special that have won many non-carob fans over!
Has there been an education process required to get Melburnians hooked on the concept?
Prahran was chosen as the home for our store as it is such a hub for health and wellness, so fortunately our local community warmly embraced us from the beginning. Having said that, we attract a broad range of customers from all over Melbourne who come to check out what we’re about and most get on board with the concept straight away. Many of our mature customers like the nostalgic feel as it reminds them of how they used to shop. Our younger customers love the ability to access so much in such an affordable manner.
The wellbeing community is very active on social media, especially Instagram. How has social media helped you spread the word?
Our Instagram account (@thesourceprahran) has really helped us spread the word as by nature, it’s so social. So many of our customers are sharing us with their friends and inspiring the online wellness community with their beautiful creations using our products. It has also helped us foster a sense of community, allowing us to interact with our customers outside of the store as well as enabling us to interact directly with leaders in the industry who we admire.
How has life changed for you both since embarking on this new adventure?
We love that we are immersed in an environment where we are surrounded by like-minded people every day. In terms of our lifestyle, we have the freedom to choose when and how we work. We are lucky enough to be able to punctuate our work day with the things we love – taking our dog for a walk, a yoga class, creating a healthy snack, chats with our community. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see our business grow from nothing to becoming the go-to destination for so many customers when it comes to their personal health journey.
Top ingredients customers can pick up in-store this spring?
• Organic Teff Flour and Organic Banana Flour – some new gluten free flours which are starting to gain popularity in mainstream.
• Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut – it’s exactly what it sounds like… a chocolate piña colada!