McQueens are new stall owners but old hands at the greengrocery trade on Bury Market
Though Darren and Helen McQueen have only owned their greengrocer’s stall since December, they are no strangers to the trade or Bury St Edmunds Market.
The couple from Barrow have a long history in the fruit and veg trade and on Bury’s Market.
In fact, Darren, 43, started working there as a 13-year-old and worked for John Webber’s greengrocery stall for 19 years.
Helen, 41, worked on a greengrocer’s stall in Newmarket and was working for John Webber before joining Robert Arnold, the previous owner of their stall, in February 2015.
When Robert felt 40 years on the market was enough, he offered the business to the McQueens, knowing they had plenty of experience.
Helen said they do not plan any major changes to the business, but she added: “We’re trying to get more locally grown produce when we can.
“We’re one of the only stalls on the market with purple sprouting broccoli which is from a farmer who picks it the day before.
“I pick up the cucumbers from the grower in Isleham – they’ve just started to come through. You can walk into the big greenhouses there and see them all growing.
“The English tomatoes are just starting to come in and most of our apples are English.
“We’re trying to keep the quality up. It’s always been a good quality stall and we want to keep the best quality.
“I don’t want someone to get something home and find it’s not good enough. If they do that, they don’t come back.”
But while they aim to get English produce as it comes into season, customers do not always understand such seasonality and the difference it makes to flavour.
Helen explained: “A lot of people don’t understand. They ask for things that are out of season.
“I think it’s because they’re used to seeing everything in the supermarkets all year round.
“When things are not in season, they haven’t got the same taste.”
Even if they are the same variety as the English-grown version, the flavour often suffers because of the distance the item has travelled, as anyone who has compared South American asparagus with stuff grown just down the road can confirm.”
As well as fruit and veg, they sell eggs. “They’re from Rattlesden Farms,” Helen quickly pointed out.
The McQueen’s greengrocery stall is outside Superdrug on Saturdays and moves up the square to outside Thorntons on a Wednesday.