Alphanso takes his 'Fruit Gallery' to a another level
Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
MANDEVILLE, Manchester:He was in a place of hopelessness; he lost all he had. Life as he knew it had started to change for the worse. But 41-year-old business owner Alphanso Foster did not let situations deter him. Instead, the trials were used as motivation and the obstacles, his tools for success.
Owner and operator of Fruits Gallery, located at 56 Caledonia Road in Mandeville, says that from birth, his life has been about turning negative elements into positive outcomes.
"I started this fruits business after going bankrupt. Before (in 2010), I had a clothing store that my uncle got me involved in, and a skating rink that closed because of difficult economic times, and I went to zero dollars. But my grandmother who raised me, was a hustler. She was always going out and getting things done with the sale of her farming produce, so I adopted that mentality to always keep going."
With hardly anything but a zeal to succeed, Foster sought a location at 25A Villa Road and, with one table and four bags of fruit, started his business in 2012.
"I had to sell some of my appliances to get money because at the time I could not get a loan from the banks - I was turned down everywhere - so I sold some of my stuff and got some money. I started with the one little table and the little bit of fruits until I was able to work my way up from a table to a tent ... ."
Foster started the business, not because he thought it lucrative, but because he saw the need for persons to adapt more and more to a healthier lifestyle.
"I was happy about the business growing every day, not for my gain, but the satisfaction of my customers, who felt because of my goods better things were happening," Foster told Rural Xpress.
With business going well and the growth of clientele, Foster was settling nicely, but a call was soon made for him to leave the area.
"Yes, I was told by the persons I leased the area from that I had to move. I really didn't know where I was going to go, but, somehow, I didn't worry as things had a way of working out themselves, as long as I was committed."
With good business networking skills, Foster soon moved to a significantly larger area, with secured fencing, seating facilities and a wider array of services offered to customers.
"In addition to the sale of fruits, nuts, health supplements, we offer power punches, fruit punches, all green juices, vegetable juices, fruit baskets, cocktails, and we do catering and deliveries as well ... . What we try to do here is have choices for customers."
He continued, "Right now, we have some popular items like the power punch, which includes flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, oats, raisins, dried cranberries, dates, plantain and honey; and persons are given the option to add or subtract what they want in it ... Our green juice with kale, string bean, French turnip, cucumber, spinach, wheat grass kiwi, green apples and pineapples is also another loved smoothie."
Having previously worked for others and in the process received serious injury, Foster attests that nothing is more satisfying than working for oneself.
"You have to have a goal set with anything you are doing, even if it means working for others first - and no job is degrading. If it means cleaning somebody's yard, (or) picking up trash, do it to get to the bigger picture; manage the money and work towards it. If I can, anybody can and it is worth it owning your own.
"In the next five years, I want Fruits Gallery to be in all 14 parishes, and I hope to have our branded line of products. I have never been to school for this purpose, but I have learnt so much and shared so much through my own research. I am committed to my clients, I open from Sunday to Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on (public) holidays, because working hard and satisfying my customers that they will go nowhere else ... is my number-one priority," he ended.