26th February 2021
Q & A with David Jackson of Jackson Greens
Tell us about your business?
Jackson Greens of Belfast began in 2005 when we took over from another greengrocer in a smaller unit next door, before moving to the larger unit we are currently in in 2015. Myself and my wife Lois both work in the family business and we employ a team of 6, some of whom have with us from the start.
Why did you choose Belfast City Centre to open your business?
We chose Belfast City Centre to open a shop as we saw the potential of such a range of people. As modern greengrocers with an extensive range we felt we could meet the needs of the weekly food shoppers, plus the many office workers nipping out to get fresh produce for their lunch, or to take home for dinner.
3 main attributes you need for the job:
Perseverance, attention to detail and to be an early riser!
My job is to continually bring the freshest produce into Belfast City Centre, and I’m continually looking for the best of local produce, and sourcing exotic produce from further afield.
Attention to detail is important to ensure optimum quality and presentation. I spend time each morning ensuring our shop looks it's best.
Being an early riser is a must. I currently rise each morning at 2.20am and buy fresh daily from our local farmers and fruit importers. I hand pick the exact produce I want, ensuring the best of the best for Jackson Greens. The early bird catches the worm as they say!
Path to this position?
As I grew up on a farm, I started gathering potatoes from a young age which progressed to a Saturday job with a greengrocer and led me to wanting to own and run my own shop. I worked full time in a greengrocers for a few years before starting out on my own at the age of 20.
What is your dream job (present position excepted)?
My dream job would be to farm full time! I currently help my father as much as I can on our family farm though it can be difficult to balance the 2 at times.
Workwise, what are you most proud of?
I'm proud of the fact that I work hard, and how myself and Lois work well as a team to bring out the best in Jackson Greens. It’s not always easy, but when you're self-employed you have to be passionate about what you do.
What are you most proud of in your life?
In life I am most proud of my family. I have 3 children – 2 girls aged 11 and 8 and a boy who is 5. They certainly keep us busy, especially at the moment with home-schooling! Life is manic at times, but my family is what it is all about.
How has lockdown impacted you?
Lockdown has been such a rollercoaster. Being based in the City Centre has been particularly difficult due to the reduction in footfall. Our customer base has changed significantly. We have lost all the office workers, many City Centre retail workers, the many customers who would have called in as they were passing, as they went about their business. However, we have gained more customers doing a weekly shop, both instore and online. We have had to adapt our business to what is now the 'new normal'.
How have you innovated over lockdown?
We had to rethink what we were doing completely. How could we make things easier for our customers? If the customers could not come to us, perhaps we could go to the customer? So we set up a new ecommerce website where the customer can shop online selecting the exact produce they want. All our fresh fruit and veg instore is available online and can be collected instore or delivered throughout Northern Ireland. We work with another local business, Chilled Home Delivery By Halo, who deliver on our behalf. This works well for us as it allows us to continue to do what we do best, being a specialist greengrocer, while they do what they do best, deliver on our behalf, direct to the customer, with a uniformed driver in a temperature-controlled van. Quality fruit and veg delivered professionally.
What do you most love about the Belfast City Centre?
I love the variety of people to be found in Belfast City Centre. From locals to tourists and day trippers who have never seen a shop like ours before and love what we do! They love the colour, the smell, the freshness. I love that one customer could purchasing basic necessities while the next wants a variety of exotics. Belfast is a beautiful City and as much as the usual buzz is quieter right now, I look forward to the day it will return in full force.