WHAT’S in a name – well, everything if you ask Chris Tonks.
There he was with his business partner and long-time friend Sam Eletri, each of them sipping a coffee and pondering what they should call the Victoria Point fruit shop the pair of them had recently acquired.
“It’s got to be catchy,” Chris thought out aloud as they started tossing around some ideas.
“What about something like Victoria Point Fruit Shop,” ventured Sam without too much conviction and which Chris thought was just a tad on the boring side.
Then suddenly – bingo – out it popped and Skippy’s Fresh Frootz was born and is now a feature of the Victoria Point shopping precinct.
The two friends had been contemplating going into business together for many years after meeting when their kids played sport in the Redlands as youngsters.
They’ve now been trading successfully for not quite 12 months and have earned themselves many plaudits for the quality and freshness of their produce.
Skippy’s Fresh Frootz is a Silver sponsor of Redland Bombers’ and provides fruit for the players after training as well as offering a match day player’s award.
The business also sponsors exciting young defender Matthew McGannon.
Chris has an engineering and hydraulics background and is now a consultant for Ritchie Bros Auctioneers, travelling throughout South East Asia and across Australia as a consultant and appraising heavy machinery.
“I’ve been involved with machinery all my working life, everything that twists and turns, goes up and down, backwards or sideways,” he said.
It’s a far cry from fruit and vegetables, but Chris has worked hard to come to grips with his new venture and concentrates on the books and the wholesale side of the business.
The produce side of things is where Sam excels.
He has more than 30 years’ experience working in fruit and vegetable shops and the markets.
Sam cut his teeth at the largest produce market operation in Australia – the Flemington Markets in Sydney – and was lured to Queensland by the enigmatic Sam Coco, who at that time owned eight Coco’s Fresh stores in South East Queensland.
He became Cocos’s Manager for all the stores for eight years.
Sam moved his family to the Redlands in 1999, took the plunge, and opened his own shop – Frootz – in Victoria Point selling the business after a successful stint of 10 years.
Due to his extensive experience, huge network of suppliers and relationships forged over many years, Sam has the advantage of buying the best quality produce at competitive prices and hence ensure the Skippy’s brand is always held to the highest of expectations.
Sam is at the Brisbane markets tasting, testing, negotiating and buying fresh produce every day, and supporting local producers and farmers as much as possible.
We should not forget the adjoining Juice Bar, which is an integral part of the operation offering a point of difference to the usual fast food options by offering healthy fresh fast food and using the extensive range of products on site.
So, let’s get back to this name – Skippy’s Fresh Frootz.
As has been pointed out the pair were seeking something to stand out from the crowd and which focussed on themselves.
“Skippy” is Sam’s nickname for Chris, while “Habibi” is Chris’s nickname for Sam, meaning “dear friend” in Lebanese.
“Skippy” is as Aussie as you can get and is a colloquial Lebanese nickname for Anglo background and Aussies in general.
“Fresh” speaks for itself and is what the business strives for daily.
“Frootz” incorporates Sam’s own successful brand.
There we have it. No marketing gimmick just a genuine partnership forged on a genuine local multicultural friendship.
Neither Chris nor Sam would have it any other way.
To find out more about Skippy’s Fresh Fruit click here