Vender of the Week: The Road Stall

Melbourne flower shop The Road Stall has been in business since 1971, when Belinda McDermott’s father Hans opened up a literal roadside stall to showcase the flowers grown near his Monbulk home. After Hans’s passing in 2006, Belinda and her partner Guy took over operations, selling only local blooms to support their nearby farmers.

Three years later, they moved into a spot on Melbourne’s Spring Street — and today, they’re bringing local Aussie flowers to one of the biggest cities Down Under. We spoke with Belinda to learn more about the Road Stall and to discover why they chose Vend to run their retail. Read on to see what she said!

NOW it feels like SPRING on Spring St!!!! #springstreet #theroadstall #melbourne #melbournecity #spring #love #localflowers #melbourneflorist

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Tell us a little about yourself, your business, and your local community. What’s your mission statement? Why are you passionate about what you do? What’s The Road Stall all about?

My father Hans founded the Road Stall in 1971 as an honesty-box system, selling flowers on the side of the road in Monbulk — one of the biggest flower-growing areas in Australia. (Around 50% of Australia’s flowers are grown within five kilometers of where we live!) In 2011, my husband Guy and I took over the property, which hadn’t had a lot of love since my dad passed away in 2006.

The property came with the flower stall, engraved in wood on the front with “The Road Stall – since 1971.” Being a young mum with absolutely nothing to do, I gave the stall a facelift and decided to sell local flowers out the front.

You wouldn’t believe it, but some flowers sold in Australia come all the way from places like Kenya, Colombia, and India. Living in a flower-growing community with flower farms all around me, I saw how bringing in imported flowers was affecting the local growers. They were scaling back, shutting down, and moving on as they couldn’t keep up with the sell prices of the imported flowers. That’s why we decided to only sell local flowers. They’re fresher, of course, since they haven’t spent two days out of water on a plane to get to you, and they also support local farmers and their families.

I plodded along at the little stall in Monbulk for three years, earning a decent social media following and loving all my customers. In 2014, the owners of Spring Street Grocer told us they liked what we did and wanted us to set up shop with them, so they offered us a space in the heart of Melbourne (157 Spring Street)!

Off I trotted: a country girl to the city in my 1995 Volkswagen van (manual with no air con), bringing in local flowers from Monbulk to Melbourne six days a week. We still sell only local flowers; we love our new customers; the business is still seeing growth; and we’re still having so much fun! I push the local bandwagon anytime I get a chance, as I truly believe we can all make a difference as consumers.

What specific pain points or issues brought you to Vend (i.e. inventory management, business growth potential), and why did you choose us over similar options?

wanted to see exactly what we were selling at what times and who was selling it.

Because our team grew from two to six really quickly, I felt we needed our systems more streamlined. I also wanted to know what was going on when I wasn’t around. As we’ve continued to grow, Vend has given me the opportunity to employ some lovely staff who share my philosophy.

I also wanted to be able to look back in a year’s time and see how many bunches of flowers we’d sold and which types had sold best.

What have been your biggest wins with Vend? How have we helped you succeed?

As business owners, Vend has given us the freedom to leave the staff to it.

We can look at what’s selling bunch-wise and know what’s going in and out without spending hours reconciling invoices against sales. We used to spend up to 20 hours a month sourcing figures from our written invoices to make sure we were ordering what we needed each week.

But we’re more organised now. With Vend, we can look up reports and project figures, budgets, flower numbers, peak sale times, and areas in need of improvement.

Hello the show is open! What a great couple of days…. our stand this year is made from recycled bulb crates….they were used in the 1980,s and 90's to store and sort flower bulbs. These were found on a farm in Monbulk – destined for a burn pile. I couldn't help myself and asked the farmer to bring them to my place! I love them… dirty, rustic and a piece of our flower farming history. We used 2,000 orange AdRem tulips which the lovely Els Bakker from @tnbtulips grew for us. Orange was my dads favourite colour, the national colour of the Dutch and I love orange flowers especially tulips!! I suppose the entry for the show is a nostalgic one for me that stems from my Dutch heritage, the admiration of the flower growers that are all around me in Monbulk and from the fun and joy of seeing the look on people's faces when they see your stand. Our whole stand is recyclable – everything on it will be reused. I hope if you get a chance you get to @mifgs you can have a look admire and make sure you send me a photo! Just #theroadstall 💛 Belinda #mifgs #localflowers #tulips #flowers #crates #recycle #melbourneflowershow #fun #melbourne #tnbtulips #orange #dutch #netherlands #monbulk

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How do you use Vend in your business? What’s the setup like in your store(s)? Are you using iPads, PCs, or other devices?

We’re using an iPad with an under-bench all-in-one printer and cash drawer.

How does your business run now as opposed to before you switched to Vend?

Our business runs so much more smoothly! We have more time to concentrate on training and on catching up on all of our other small-business jobs.

With Vend, we actually have a work/life balance!

Do you recommend Vend? What do you say to other retailers about Vend?

I definitely recommend Vend. It’s easy to use for both the business owner(s) and staff. It’s also not too expensive — totally manageable for a small business!

Follow the Road Stall on Facebook and Instagram, and pop into the shop if you’re in Melbourne.

About Nikki Michaels

Nikki is Vend's content and copy wizard. American-born and Auckland-based, she's into reading (a lot), writing (obviously), and travelling (always).