Mudgee Corner Store

Month: August 2016

Tis (not quite) the Season

It’s August and my fingers are freezing as I type this, yet in front of me I have order forms for Christmas stock, order now or miss out is the message! It hardly seems reasonable; I only just found places for all the loot an over zealous Santa Clause reined down on my children last Christmas.

Christmas cards, puddings, cakes, gifts, calendars, gourmet delicacies, hamper boxes, hams…so much to go through so much to consider, so much to predict. What will my customers want in four months time? That is the name of game though, careful prediction. As with pretty much anything in life, gather the information you can, analyse, discuss and then throw a rock into the wind and see which way it blows. I think we will stick with the approach that’s working for us now. High quality. Ethical. Australian. Sustainable. Family owned businesses. And a whole heap of delicious.

Making Christmas cakes is always a bit of fun. Or hair-pulling-out-horror if you don’t actually like baking. For the most part, I enjoy it. This year I’m grabbing a very old family recipe and making Christmas cakes for the silly season. Right now the vine fruits, cherries, candied rind and figs are soaking in dark rum. Later on there will be real butter, pastured eggs, flour, sugar and spice added. Some almonds. More rum. Then they’ll be available in store come November, it’s small batch so hopefully there will be enough to go around.

Christmas cake fruit basking in the dark rum
Christmas cake fruit basking in the dark rum

As for plum pudding, the best part of Christmas lunch, I’m selecting puddings from Pudding lane. An artisan pudding making business, family owned and all from real ingredients including Free Range eggs. There are countless options! Apart from stocking the traditional round puddings, do I go for something a little more fancy? Chocolate Rum and Raisin, Choc Orange, macadamia and Brandy. What about Date and Toffee? What’s so lovely about Pudding Lane is they make puddings in a log shape, making beautiful gifts and excessively easy to divide and serve. Personally I think I’ll go with Triple Chocolate – even the kids might like that one!

Once I’ve got the cakes and orders under control, it’s Christmas shopping for my own family and friends. I think I’ll be giving hampers from store wherever I can, when you slip in some Spencers Cocoa and Hello Lovelies Cordial, no one is left unhappy! It’s the kids shopping that’s tricky. I love buying my kids stuff they’ll get a real kick out of and yet I really feel uncomfortable with the overload of plastics and throw away items the retail chains throw our way – stocking stuffers are the worst! I’m going lean this year, a couple of solid gifts they’ll love and a smaller Santa Sack. Better quality. Less of it. Then we’ll make the most of the precious couple of days away from the store to enjoy the family time, the gifts, Mudgee wines, the food and, although it seems a life time away now, the heat of summer.


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A Year Into the Crazy

At the end of the month we’ll have been immersed in this crazy endeavour for a full year. Regularly my friends and family ask “so are you enjoying it”, some also ask “so, are you making any money”. The second question I try to ignore or skirt around, as quite frankly I’m not entirely sure, being in a small business brings out a whole new set of metrics compared to those you have when having a PAYE job. The first question however is easy to answer. Yes. Yes. Mostly yes. Yes.
On the spectrum of busy-ness – we sat on a the “pretty-crazy-hold-on-for-your-life-sleep-when-you’re-dead” end. Now it’s more of a regularly steady manageable crazy with peaks of “hold-on-for-your-life” chaos. Twelve months ago we had just relocated to the area after having lived away for a decade (or two). With 3 kids, the oldest in school and the youngest still being breastfed, I dived into a seven day a week business I didn’t really know a lot about. Research, business plans and a weeks handover leave you terribly underequipped for the reality of your livelihood, confidence and families future is resting squarely on your shoulders. I’d prepared for many things, the two things I could never have grasped the full weight of before taking over, was just how hard it was to make a great coffee and just how much energy reserves your body has left when you think you’re tapped out.
In twelve months we’ve gone from knowing how to order a coffee and how to complain when it wasn’t right to being pretty proficient and confident in ability to say we serve the best coffee in Mudgee. It was excellent before we took over, it took a dive as we started our learning curve and now it’s beyond excellent.
So with the rollercoaster still going we’re enjoying the ride a lot more now, we know where some of the big dips are and are fully aware that some may still be ready to knock us sideways. The kids are settled and happy, the unwavering assistance of my parents making this whole adventure possible and providing that stable home base the kids are thriving in. That and rock solid husband who knows all the stuff I don’t (which is a lot), fills in the gaps, repairs my mistakes and keeps the wheels of life turning. He has impressed beyond measure with his steely determination and ability to still like me after a year of massive change and growth that has come with some wounds from my some prickly, nasty thorns along the way. We are now both fully immersed in this business, hell or high water and we’re starting to move on from treading water and put in a few arm strokes.
Most importantly we have an amazing team who are conscientious, capable and great to work with. Then of course we have wonderful loyal customers. Without either we’d still be day dreaming about something other than the corporate grind we’d spent our careers resenting. Hospitality is a draining industry and it’s a rewarding one. Thank you to everyone who has supported us this far, our loyal customers, are friendly team and our family.
Twelve months in and we’re ready to face another twelve head on.

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