Known for gourmet nuts, spices and perfect coffee, meet Sam Vavasis the man behind the Peanut Market, Perfect Coffee and Sam’s Spice & Grocery, discover his wonderful story of over 40 years trading at Dandenong Market.
In 1974 Sam’s parents started at Dandenong Market with six sacks of nuts in shells, on the kerb next to the donut van. An original family business, the Vavasis family has seen a great many changes as well as growing the family business to three successful award winning stalls at the market.
Emigrating from Greece in 1956 with hope of a better life, Sam’s parents fell in love with Australia, making Melbourne their home. After working a few factory jobs and running small busnesses, Sam’s parents saw an opportunity at Dandenong Market with the growing community in Dandenong and its surrounding suburbs, as well as there being no stalls at the market where you could buy nuts.
As the popularity of the nut business grew, Sam started working at the market when he was young as his parents ‘English’ was very limited. Sam helped get suppliers and stock for his parents at the nut stall, learning the business hands on over many years. After leaving school and working in a bank for nine years, Sam decided to work at the market full time adding his aquired knowledge and customer service skills into the family business.
Growing from six sacks of nuts in shells from the kerb side nut stall and securing a prominent inside position at Dandenong Market, the Peanut Market grew to over four hundred types of nuts in stock! Sam says the key to the Peanut Market’s success has been supplying customers what they want and desire providing everything from Turkish sultanas and unsalted cashews to trendy Goji berries and macadamias, now also stocking gluten free flour, organic products and specialty products like rice syrup and coconut oil. Sam said if more than two customers asked for a product they didn’t have they would order stock of it in and soon word would spread, creating the queues of people outside his stall every market day. Supplying a vast array of cultures with a variety of grains, nuts and gourmet products has made the Peanut Market the award winning popular stall it is today.
A lover of coffee, short black especially, and not being able to buy a real coffee other than instant at the market, Sam decided to buy a top of the range professional coffee machine, source quality coffee beans and open up a coffee shop at Dandenong Market where customers could get a perfect coffee made with TLC – hence ‘Perfect Coffee’ was born in 1996.
Family is important to Sam, and priding his business on a strong family ethic generating from his parents, his two children also working at the market stalls when not at University, Sam’s son was the one who inspired Sam’s Spices and Grocery opening in 2010. Seeing a good opportunity with a vacant space in the Meat, Fish & Deli hall, Sam’s Spice & Grocery was opened for cooks and food lovers to find all those hard-to-find spices and grocery items, as well as stocking a large selection of rices, olive oils, feta cheese, chutneys, teas, flavourings, Greek-style yoghurt and frozen foods.