Bayside locals are delighted to see the old ‘Elwood Organic’ up and running in full-force under the management of the dedicated Mark Doneddu, but few would be aware it’s previous owner Bruce Standish still plays a hand in the shop’s operation to this day, despite his passing three years ago.
Bruce opened the then “Natural Health Supplies” (or more commonly known simply as “Bruce’s”) in Ormond road in 1981. Prior to this he was operating out of Glenhuntly Road and was, in fact, the first-person to sell organics in Australia in 1967. As quite the pioneer in the veganism and organic movement, Bruce himself was a vegan since 1941.
The shop on Ormond Road has an immense history as a fruit and veg shop almost 100 years ago, dating back to 1925, “the first two owners were Italians, one family in 1925 and one in the 50s, then a Czechoslovakian family after that, before Bruce took it over in ’81 and started selling organics and eventually made it 100% vegan in 2011 – no animal products or dairy).” For legal reasons the shop couldn’t open until 2019 and even then it was only “token open” trading one day a week but is now fully operating Wednesday through Sunday weekly.
Mark came to know Bruce through their mutual involvement in World Vegan Day, which Mark helped start in 2003 and Bruce proudly and consistently held a stall at even up to two months before his passing. Little did Mark realise his involvement with Bruce would shape the course of his own future so importantly. Describing his involvement in Elwood Organics as an honour Mark says, “[Bruce] left the business to a trust… to people he knew would continue the legacy he created, he wanted me to run it and I’m honoured and humbled that he thought that highly of me… that he wanted me to continue the legacy.”
Bruce certainly left Elwood Organic in safe and caring hands with Mark, who exudes passion and spirit for the work, the shop and its history. He truly beams with pride and is a customer’s delight at every encounter. When speaking with Mark you might find yourself wondering if there’s anything you care about as much as he cares about Elwood Organic – in a way its subtly, perhaps even organically, inspiring.
With a link back to the shop’s original 1925 Italian roots, Mark (himself an immigrant to the country, at 18 months old) proudly asserts that if anyone wants to step back in time or show their kids what life was like in 1925 they can come into the shop where “its very much as it always was, not a lot has changed… take a look at the original cash register which is still here… it preceded the decimal currency era in Australia!”
The message to locals is clear from the care taken in the shop’s revitalisation and proud presentation, Elwood Organic is back and welcomes the ongoing support of locals through lockdown 4.0 and beyond.
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