Commonsense Organics is a Kiwi store which has sold organic and specialist groceries in Wellington for more than 20 years. It opened its first Auckland branch at Eden Quarter, 284 Dominion Rd, on April 1.
The chain has five stores in Wellington, and ships goods around New Zealand from its online store.
Owner Jim Kebbell is a former Catholic priest who was ordained in Rome. He set up the grocery business in 1991 with wife Marion Wood after the pair established a co-operative housing project and market garden business called “Common Property.”
One of the first farms in New Zealand to be certified organic by BioGro, Common Property continues to produce seedlings, fruit and vegetables and salad greens which are sold in Commonsense Organics stores.
A blog post written in 2013 by the team describes Kebbell and Wood adjusting to life as retailers:
“One day, [Kebbell] got the produce looking beautiful and drew people into the store. As he completed a pyramid of oranges, an impressed new customer reached to take one and Jim yelled, ‘Don’t touch that! I just put those there!’ We refer to this as the ‘John Cleese’ model of customer service.”
Wood, who is managing director, told Viva magazine that she hoped the business would help to grow the market for organic groceries and support local suppliers rather than competing with existing organic stores.
“Every time we open our doors, the organic market grows,” Marion says. “People want to buy things that are good for them and good for the Earth and they want retailers to be authentic and trustworthy.”