Meneka Premkumar & John Currey • Hawthorn
The Common Good is an independent, old-style grocer with new-style ideas about food ethics, nutrition and organics.
Meneka Premkumar and John Currey, a local Hawthorn couple, own and operate the business, based on a commitment to doing ethical and fair trade in the organic and wholefood space.
The Common Good opened 2013 and was Meneka’s first foray into her own small business.
The decision to start the business happened around the time that Meneka fell pregnant. With a busy job in international education and a baby on the way, she found herself at a career crossroads.
“We felt strongly about the way we lived and what we were leaving behind, so when we had Indira, I knew I had the skills to start a business that meant something, and also to be a present parent.
“What we eat and how we feed our children became a bit of a mantra for me, so after I left my corporate life to begin parenthood, The Common Good was born.”
More than three years later, the store stocks milk, bread, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, frozen goodies, nuts, pasta, grains, cereals, healthy drinks, deli goods, cooking sauces, oils, spreads, personal care and cleaning products as well as gourmet goodies, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan and Paleo food.
And true to their goal of having people re-engage with shopping, they never attempt to be all things to all people.
“We don’t sell everything, so we’d like to think that our customers would buy what they can from us, but support their other local ethical businesses as well,” says Meneka.
In 2014, The Common Good participated in the Small Business Victoria’s Support Small Business Day, saying it was ‘a great success for a new business on the high street.’
Not only did it introduce them to their local shoppers, it also helped them to find new customers that they believe they couldn’t potentially have accessed at the time.
Right from the start, the couple has never wavered in a commitment to reacquaint people with shopping locally, eating organically and sustainably, and widening the conversation about ethical living and integrity-based business.
“We are a husband, wife and toddler team who juggle going to market, dealing with growers, farmers and suppliers and researching and getting to know all the people and companies behind the products we sell.”
“It’s not just what you stock,” says Meneka. “It’s how you source energy, how you minimise waste, how you treat your staff and customers.”
Meneka and John’s three tips for other small business operators:
▶︎ Stay true to how you started. If you want to run a sustainable business, be sustainable in everything you do, from day one.
▶︎ Invite your customers on the journey with you. If you have a business you believe in, the experience should be as authentic for them as it is for you.
▶︎ Realise that small business is so much more than about making money. In good times and bad, your community of customers, suppliers and business contacts will see you through. You can’t put a price on that.
Get assistance for starting a business at Small Business Victoria.