From Landscaper to Greengrocer

The Gosse family shares a passion for fruits and vegetables since the 1950s. Jocelyn has opened Les Magasins de la Passion in Bernay, in Normandy, where he represents the third generation.

By Fédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

Still Life, Apples and Chestnuts (1859) by John F. FrancisLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Cider and calvados are emblems of Normandy gastronomy. The region is known for its many apple-based specialities and has been developing local and sustainable industries in recent years, in cooperation with the local farmers. There, the production of fresh fruit represents more than half of the organic orchard. Jocelyn Gosse settled in Bernay, a small town with medieval architecture and preserved landscapes, to ensure that the family know-how continues to flourish.

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A new start 

In 1986, Jocelyn Gosse created Les Magasins de la Passion with his wife Élisabeth. His grandfather had been the first in the family to start selling fruits and vegetables after the war, and his parents, now retired, followed in different outlets. 

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Third generation in the trade, Jocelyn arrived in Bernay 35 years ago. For a month, he and Elisabeth criss-crossed the outskirts of Rouen from town to town in search of a place to settle. Among their criteria: quality of life and dynamism. 

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The job wasn’t really planned either: a landscape gardener by training, Jocelyn began his career managing garden centres. While waiting to create his own, he opened a fruit and vegetable business with the idea of selling it a few years later... But life went on, and he decided to keep it. 

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A job of passion 

Jocelyn still has cousins in the industry who he regularly meets on the wholesale markets to exchange ideas. He is proud to offer a variety of services that go beyond sales and build trust with his customer. 

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Above all, Jocelyn has a passion for the product: "you have to work your product like a farmer feels his land, according to the seasons".

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Choosing the products  

The sale of fruits and vegetables represents 75% of its activity, but the store also has about ten meters of cheese shelves. "To make sure they are fresh, we taste them. Very simple!": the products are bought every second day on the wholesale markets, and he also regularly visits local producers.

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Although he learned from his grandfather, the way fruits and vegetables are sold today has nothing to do with the way they were 30 or 40 years ago: with contemporary challenges, volumes and products keep on changing. You need to adapt from year to year, sometimes even on the same product. 

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A taste for innovation 

Customer's expectations are also changing. We must anticipate their needs and adapt to their requirements, both for the product and its presentation. He was one of the first, for example, to sell red kiwis and avocados before they reached the mass market, or to decorate his store. 

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This pioneering spirit is what makes the store special. To meet the needs of customers who no longer have time to shop, Jocelyn introduced a drive that was a great success during the lockdown. 

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The awards 

Les Magasins de la Passion are triple Mercure d’Or, and Mercure d’Or of the year 2018. For Jocelyn, these prestigious awards were “beautiful adventures that please customers and motivate the staff.” He has four employees on the team that he trained directly. His passion is communicative, and the apprentices who discover the trade really share his enthusiasm.

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In addition to the store, the drive and the markets, Jocelyn is working on the opening of a new self-service. His children did not want to pursue in this field, so he will probably be the last family generation to take care of the business. But thanks to his apprentices, it is now in good hands. 

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