Well, shucks, home-delivered ‘luxury’ brings lots of joy
A BALLINA-based oyster wholesaler was forced to rethink her business model due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Unable to continue selling premium live oysters to high-end restaurateurs because of restaurant closures, Shuck owner Lucy Ashley started an oyster home-delivery service.
She delivers to homes in Ballina, Lismore and Byron weekly.
Her first delivery day on Good Friday was a roaring success, filling more than 50 orders.
"It was huge. We had more orders than expected," Ms Ashley said.
"There are a lot of oyster lovers in this region, thankfully, and I think everyone is wanting a bit of luxury while they are trapped at home."
Her oysters require shucking, and she said locals had been embracing the process.
She also sells local produce hampers which include organic artisan sourdough from a Mullumbimby bakery, cultured butters from a Nimbin dairy, and Clarence Valley finger lime punnets.
Ms Ashley follows strict coronavirus protocols in preparing the produce.
"All the home deliveries are packed while wearing gloves, and I use fresh gloves for each delivery," she said.
She said the oyster industry had been operating on a knife's edge since the drought and bushfires.
"It's been a terrible time for NSW oyster farmers," Ms Ashley said.
"Bushfires cut producers off from the market, and when rain washed ash into some of the estuaries, it resulted in algal blooms and mass mortalities.
"When the government announced restaurants would be closed to diners, their market collapsed."
Ms Ashley was amazed by the support she has received from local residents.
"I just want to say how incredibly supportive local people have been. They have been enthusiastic about the idea and about sharing it online," she said.
"During our deliveries, everybody I met was so lovely.
"It's been a difficult time for me, so to be greeted so warmly has lifted my spirits."
She would like to continue the home delivery service into the future, but that will depend on the viability of the business, which she will measure in upcoming weeks.