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“I like helping customers with their shopping” – Mitch tells us about working at the Bunbury Farmers Market

Mitch is wearing a yellow fluro shirt. He is standing with his hands on a trolley and is looking at the camera

A number of months ago at a local quiz night, the proverbial question was asked about Bunbury’s most popular tourist attraction. Opinion was divided, but those at the table who answered “Bunbury Farmers Market” won the prize.

A tourist attraction, really?

We’ve since been asking ourselves how a store – albeit a large and specialised one – evolves into a city’s top tourist attraction.

So, we set ourselves the challenge of checking it out. We have several participants who work at the Market and we invited ourselves along to see Mitch Hotchin, a trolley collector, in action.

Overload

But first things first. Arriving at the Market results in an onslaught to the senses. There always seems to be lots of people, cars aplenty, trolleys galore, the freshest looking produce, delicious samples to be devoured, coffee, and all those irresistible edibles on display at the café upon arrival. So, no wonder folks flock to the Market and people across this vast land continue to rave about it.

Mitch at the Market

Amidst this pleasant hullabaloo, we somehow manage to connect with Mitch. He tells us he’s been working at the Market for seven years. This is his first and only job which he started when the Market was in its former location on Blair Street.

A positive vibe

We ask Mitch if he likes working at the Market. He’s affirmative and says: “there are great bosses and great workers here.”

What makes a great boss, we wonder? According to Mitch, this is about making him feel safe. “They tell me to look both ways when crossing, drink water, wear my sunscreen and hat. I’m allowed to push two or three trolleys at one time, and not more and only in certain places. This helps keep us all safe.”

He also tells us that he finds his job rewarding. “I like helping the customers with their shopping,” adds Mitch.

Bonus points

So, we have something to add to the list of things on offer at the Market. We have loyal staff who feel safe and enjoy what they do. Definitely a bonus for shoppers!

Meeting a colleague

On the day of our visit, we were lucky and meet Jess Howlett, one of the supervisors of the trolley crew. She tells us that: “It’s great working with the trolley collectors and they love giving back to the community.” As far as Mitch is concerned, Jess adds that: “Everyone here knows Mitch. He’s famous.”

Mitch, Jess and Ryan are standing at the Bunbury Farmers Market and are looking at the camera

Mitch stands with Jess Howlett, a supervisor of the trolley crew, and crew member Ryan Brennan. Photo by oxy images

Luck on our side

Our visit was like winning the grand prize at quiz night because by chance we meet Market General Manager Leith Johnston after our earlier attempts to contact him were less than spectacular – not surprising considering the demands of running a top tourist destination. We inquire about his inclusive approach to staffing. He explains that: “We want to engage with and be part of the local community so it’s natural that we employ a diverse workforce. We’re just reflecting the community in which we live and work. When people shop with us, they see themselves and that adds value to their experience.”

Good for business

The Bunbury Farmers Market is clearly an expert in attracting regular shoppers (and tourists too). But, behind the scenes, they understand that a diverse workforce – including the famous Mitch who feels safe and finds his job rewarding – is just good for business.


Feature photo: Mitch Hotchin outside the Bunbury Farmers Market, September 2020 by Rob Cox, oxy images

Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.

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