Celebrating the Women of Food Lover’s Market – Raquel van Graan

Raquel, Manager of Food Lover’s Market Tokai, pages through the Food & Entertainment Women s’ Day leaflet (that week’s printed leaflet to customers full of recipes and great deals) and swiftly gets shop displays rearranged to showcase the specials and complimentary products. The local Westlake NPO arrive for their collection of products the store donates daily. Speaking to a supplier, she addresses him comfortably yet respectfully him as “Oom” demonstrating the good relationships held with suppliers. Then she arranges for 40 packets of flour to go to a neighbouring store in need.  – And this was all in the time it took for a member of her team to boil the kettle and make me a cup of coffee!

Raquel and her current Admin Manager, Dalene started working in Fruit and Veg City Mitchell’s Plein in 1996. Both women worked in the milk room. “In those days, we sold fresh milk on tap, out of vats,” she shares. When the store closed, they both joined the corporate team and were assigned to Roeland Street, from there, Raquel moved to Tokai.

  1. Did you have a mentor that you looked up to?

Demetri Gaffley, my manager at Roeland Street where I started as Assistant Manager, continuously steered, guided and pushed me to achieve. Demetri is currently regional manager of the Western Cape.

Val Riccardi, to me, he is an icon in our business. He has been around for many a year and all that experience in getting the best deals, and his help at the markets over the years, have been very inspirational and educational for me. Val works as the manager of Parklands now but has been a manager within the company for 20 years.

  1. What is your greatest achievement to date?

Running the largest Food Lover’s Market store in Western Cape is my biggest achievement. I feel strongly about achieving this as a coloured woman.

  1. What would you like to say to motivate other South African women?

As I always tell my staff, be open to achieving. And listen, always keep your ears open, for opportunities, for news and to learn. I was scared to take the steps so I urge others to have the confidence to take the chance, the opportunity while remaining true to yourself. There is always an opportunity to rise up.

But remember others in your struggle, help others up along with you, and think about possibilities and changes you can make, that benefit others too.

  1. Tell me something I don’t know about Food Lover’s?

The customers don’t see how close the staff teams are. Food Lover’s started as a family business and it still follows the values. We stick together through good or bad. This close commitment to others and confidence in the company keeps us all here at Food Lover’s, allowing us to work our way up and for customers to benefit from our mountains of knowledge gained through the staff.

  1. What would your ideal job be?

I don’t see myself in any other job than on the floor or any other part of the pace and adrenaline that is retail!

  1. How many butternuts could fit into an old volksie?

That’s a lekker question! (Turns to her team for a quick brainstorming discussion of their thoughts). “156” she responds confidently and very precisely.

  1. Describe Food Lover’s Market to a foreigner who has never visited one.

It’s nothing like you have ever seen, encompassing a food lover’s fantasy of all the foods and fresh produce you can imagine! From the first step, there is a wow factor. It’s a market, with a route that takes you through everything that is there to explore. It’s like a maze of great products, and you will be amazed…by how many products end up in your trolley!

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