The well-known shop, located in the Kilbride Plaza development on Kilbride Street, was an institution in Tullamore for almost three decades and was originally the brainchild of the late Paul Daly, who first began selling fruit and vegetables from a stall at a licensed market which was operated by Offaly County Council.
What began as a sideline venture turned into a thriving business once Paul and his wife, Betty, obtained a business premises in Kilbride Plaza, but a difficult trading environment and increasing competition, particularly from the supermarket sector, forced the closure of the business last weekend.
Betty Daly, who has been running the business since her husband, Paul, passed away after a short illness in September 2016, said it was “no longer viable” to continue operating the business as the margins “just weren't there anymore and we were battling all the time against increasing competition, especially from discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, who were selling produce for less than we could buy it in for.”
Betty paid tribute to the “many loyal customers” who supported the business over the past 29 years, and said she will miss the day to day interaction with them, adding that many of them have become “great friends” over the years.
Apart from selling a full range of fruit and vegetables, Paul's Fruit and Veg shop was also widely renowned for 'Betty's Homemade jam” which was made by Betty Daly herself using fruit grown on the family farm in Blueball. “I actually got into making jam almost by chance” explains Betty “a lady called Mrs Doolin used to make the jam and we sold it in the shop, and when she passed away, all the customers were still looking for the jam, so I started making it myself and it has proved to be one of our biggest sellers over the years.”
The good news for the many fans of Betty's Jam is that it will continue to be on sale in Tullamore, and will be stocked in both K Flowers (located next door to Paul's shop in Kilbride Plaza) and also in Fox's shop on Kilbride street.
While Betty is sad to have turned the key for one final time on the family business where she worked alongside her husband, Paul, for over a quarter of a century, she says she has “about three months work” awaiting her at the family home in Rathrobin, where she is looking forward to “painting, cleaning and tidying up.”
Since Paul passed away in 2016, Betty Daly admits that it was “a tough call” to carry on the business without him, but she received great help and support from her family, particularly daughters Kara and Aisling, and from her loyal customer base.
In an interview just one year before his untimely death, Paul Daly was asked what advice he would give anyone contemplating going into business, and his simple advice was “be prepared to work hard.” The visionary businessman was never afraid of hard work and he was immensely proud of the top-class service he provided to his loyal customer base.
This was a tradition which Betty and her family continued until the trading environment became so difficult that they were left with no option but to close their doors.Paul's Fruit and Veg may be gone, but it will never be forgotten!