Gary Jackson chatted with us about the journey behind Jackson’s Real Food Market.
Here at the Small Business Showcase, we have so mushroom in our hearts for people like Gary.
Crises… or opportunity?
For Gary, that crisis was his health: “It was a mess.”
He felt so poorly he even thought he may be seriously ill.
After a drastic change in diet and a few lifestyle changes (i.e. proper sleep and water intake) he says he felt a difference within three days. Fast forward three months and most of the scarier symptoms, like high blood pressure, eczema and depression, had disappeared.
“I literally took six months off to get my health sorted,” he says.
“I felt human again.”Gary Jackson
With his health sorted and his mind set on the importance of a clean diet, he realised he had a new challenge:
Where to shop? Where to eat out?
Gary realised that if he wanted to continue to eat right and maintain his health, he needed a supermarket he could get behind.
“I hated supermarket shopping. I found it sterile. I didn’t like the smell. I hated the long aisles that they forced you to walk up and down. There was just so much I didn’t enjoy – it was like a chore as opposed to a timeout.”
And so, Jackson’s was born. At first, it operated out of a garage. But once it had enough momentum, Gary knew it was time to build. And he knew he wanted to go big.
“It was like building the church and hoping the congregation would come afterward,” he says.
Amen to that!
The goal was to create a space that was “relaxed and chilled”. But Gary also realised that the brand had an even more challenging task: convincing people that “eating healthy is cool.”
“Prior to that, there was a stigma around people who went on a health-food diet. Because it was ‘sandals and candles’,” he says.
Supporting small businesses
After choosing, designing and creating the space (with second-hand materials btw, staying true to its ethics-based model), Gary needed to think about what he’d stock.
It needed to be healthy, organic and free from things we can’t pronounce. But it also needed to be of the highest quality.
Gary started investigating. He knew quality small businesses existed, they just weren’t getting the shelving they deserved. So he started what he calls a “small business incubation program”.
“One of my biggest passions is small businesses.”Gary Jackson
Gary admits that finding and listing the right produce “was a helluva process… and still is”. But being a “gatekeeper of quality and nutrition” is important to him. And the quality of Jackson’s produce is testament to that.
Many of these small guys – now favourites of many Jackson’s fans – have moved up and on and can be found at national retailers.
So you might even say that Gary is a souperhero for small business.
Eat good, feel good… sandals, candles and all: https://jacksonsrealfoodmarket.co.za/
P.S. A huge fan of Jackson’s just like us? Know a small business owner? Just like the sound of this guy, his story and his brand? Share this Small Business Showcase article far and wide: