After almost 50 years, Ziggys is shutting up shop in Belconnen

James Coleman 5 August 2021 33
Ziggys Fresh owners

Ken, Todd, and Toni have operated Ziggys Fresh for 18 years, along with daughter-in-law Susie. Photo: Ziggys Fresh

After nearly 50 years in its current space at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, the Ziggys Fresh store is closing its doors.

The closure comes as the popular marketplace begins its transformation into a new-look food precinct and leases come to an end.

Both Ziggys and neighbouring florist, Bunches @ Belconnen, will open for the last time on Sunday, 15 August.

Ken Irvine, along with this wife Toni, son Todd and daughter-in-law Susie own and operate both stores and are “truly saddened to be faced with no option but to leave this once vibrant location”.

“I grew up working here,” said Todd, who is the third generation in this line of greengrocers.

“Every day, we would see the same familiar faces, have a few laughs and do what we love – provide the freshest produce just like our Pop did before us.”

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Ziggys outdates the Belconnen Markets itself. It was established in 1972 as a truck in the car park selling fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farmers. The company then took out a lease within the markets and currently holds the record as the oldest tenant.

The Irvine family themselves are also an institution in the fruit and veggie business. Ken’s parents opened a fruit store in a closed-down Neptune service station in Yass in 1959.

Ken married Toni in 1981 and continued the family tradition by opening their own fruit stall in a second-hand tractor yard in Young. They then went on to open two more stores in Cootamundra and Wagga Wagga.

The Ziggys storefront

The Ziggys storefront at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. Photo: Ziggys Fresh.

Ken and Toni bought Ziggys 18 years ago and have been servicing Canberra’s north with fresh organic produce from farmers around Sydney ever since.

“It’s heartbreaking to know we won’t make it to the milestone of 50 years in Belconnen as we had always envisaged,” Ken said.

Elanor Investment Group took over Belconnen Fresh Food Markets three years ago, with plans to rename it Capital Food Market and transform it into a European-style artisan food and entertainment precinct that it says will be the envy of Australia when it opens in 2022.

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The ambitious project will transform the 45-year-old market into a 4300 square-metre food destination featuring indoor and outdoor dining, food demonstration areas, restaurants, bars and agricultural produce from some of the region’s farmers and fishers.

The market will be flanked by 400 square metres of landscaped green space with outdoor seating and a sound garden featuring percussion instruments made by a local artist. Parking for 200 cars will sit below the new market hall.

Proposed Belconnen Fresh Food Markets

An artist’s impression of the upgraded Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. Image: Supplied.

Toni believes many of the old shops are closing because of their lease agreements.

“The leases dictate that if the landlord is demolishing the property, they have to accommodate you in the interim and then set you back up exactly as you were. For Ziggys, this would include storage and cooling facilities, and they don’t want to spend this money.”

There is a backup, however.

Over the past 12 years, the Irvines have worked very hard to turn the Ziggys Fresh store at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets into their flagship store.

It took out the coveted Greengrocer of the Year in 2016, as awarded by the Sydney Markets for retailers in NSW and the ACT. It also won Best Medium Business three times at the same awards and is a finalist in 2021, marking the sixth year in a row they have been recognised in this way.

Ziggys Fresh Fyshwick store

The mini-truck stuffed with apples at the Ziggys Fresh Fyshwick store. Photo: Ziggys Fresh.

Toni said they had been overwhelmed by the number of loyal customers promising to follow them to Fyshwick.

“We originally only expected about 10 per cent of our customers to follow us to Fyshwick because, after all, you don’t really go to Fyshwick unless you want to buy a TV. But since news of the closure, there isn’t one person who has said they won’t bother coming. We feel very humbled by that.”

Customers will see many familiar faces from the Belconnen store, as many of the staff members are moving over to join the team at Ziggys Fyshwick.

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A spokesperson for Elanor said the company had not terminated leases with any of the Belconnen traders, and each had made “their own decisions based on their unique circumstances”.

“Elanor has maintained open communication and negotiations with all BFFM traders with regard to their future arrangements in the Markets redevelopment, whilst ensuring compliance with our respective lease rights and obligations,” the spokesperson said.

“The majority of the current BFFM traders are looking forward to their future involvement in the new Capital Food Market.”

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33 Responses to After almost 50 years, Ziggys is shutting up shop in Belconnen
Simon Linke Simon Linke 2:43 pm 08 Aug 21

"...transform it into a European-style artisan food and entertainment precinct that it says will be the envy of Australia when it opens in 2022." 😂😂😂😂

Siddharth Varman Siddharth Varman 7:38 pm 07 Aug 21

Aarush Chevli. But why ?

Judi Pearce Judi Pearce 6:57 pm 07 Aug 21

James Pearce

Tom Pearce

Teresa Margules Teresa Margules 11:03 am 07 Aug 21

All the very best Ken and Toni

Nick Martelli Nick Martelli 5:25 pm 06 Aug 21

Good operators always rise to the top.

Just a hiccup in the journey.

Dean Spencer Dean Spencer 11:32 am 06 Aug 21

My first job 😢

Nathan Giannasca Nathan Giannasca 11:01 am 06 Aug 21

Very sad!

Rob Birtles Rob Birtles 10:26 am 06 Aug 21

Used the Belconnen Markets every weekend since coming to Canberra in 1990 but over the last 2 years sadly I am finding myself going to the markets less and less as the prices there have become more expensive than elsewhere.

I don't know whether other people have observed this and if this may be a driver of the decision to close. :(

    Finally Relented Finally Relented 2:58 pm 06 Aug 21

    Rob Birtles yes! Don't go often but went recently and nearly died at the prices. All for helping local farmers etc but bit beyond...😶

Lin Barber Lin Barber 9:03 am 06 Aug 21

OH NO!!! You have the best fruit and Veg 🙁 so sad. I wonder why... Does this mean the end of the belco markets?????

Amanda Howell Amanda Howell 8:23 am 06 Aug 21

Jenny Spencer why does this make me sad!

    Jenny Spencer Jenny Spencer 8:28 am 06 Aug 21

    Amanda Howell me too. I always went to that shop when in Canberra. We were there last time you visited.

    Jenny Spencer Jenny Spencer 8:32 am 06 Aug 21

    Amanda Howell yes….when we stayed at the Benjamin in front of the markets. There was ash and really thick smoke and we drove over the road 😂 We had been to Geraldines the night before.

Genine McKinnon Genine McKinnon 8:20 am 06 Aug 21

WOW i worked for the Irvines when they first opened there store in Young in the 80’s.

    Wendy Ruediger Wendy Ruediger 11:31 am 06 Aug 21

    Genine McKinnon I worked for them briefly in Yass in the 90's.

Gerard Wyche Gerard Wyche 7:44 am 06 Aug 21

What a shame. Looks like trips to the Fyshwick markets now.

Steve Aust Steve Aust 7:13 am 06 Aug 21

Is Belconnen ready for a “Euro style food hall”? Me thinks not.

Margaret Dzieciol Margaret Dzieciol 6:28 am 06 Aug 21

Will miss this wonderful shop.

Jo Thomas-Twomey Jo Thomas-Twomey 10:12 pm 05 Aug 21

Not good ... the only place to buy apples that aren't coated in wax

Nicole Krege Nicole Krege 10:09 pm 05 Aug 21

Oh no... Ziggys is the only one I go to at Belconnen markets as I think it's the best. That's a blow to my market shopping.

Fiona Johnston Fiona Johnston 9:44 pm 05 Aug 21

Devo, where will I get my fruit and vege from now?

    Mark Thompson Mark Thompson 5:04 pm 06 Aug 21

    Fiona Johnston Ziggys Fresh in Fyshwick… bit further of a drive but their Fyshwick store is even better anyways and they are a lovely family!!

    Fiona Johnston Fiona Johnston 5:30 pm 06 Aug 21

    Mark Thompson fyshwick is too far for us. But yeah I go there because I use to work with Sam.

Margarete Diaouris Margarete Diaouris 8:54 pm 05 Aug 21

So sad .....

Margaret Tuckwell Margaret Tuckwell 8:46 pm 05 Aug 21

I remember the preschool teacher at Aranda telling me to purchase the preschool fruit for a term to go to Ziggy's for best value for price, taste and freshness. Did for 30 years for myself and now go to Fyshwick if I am in Canberra. Such a great business

Anne Curtain Anne Curtain 7:55 pm 05 Aug 21

What a shame!

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