Mavis Mercer has always been closely connected to Lennox Head. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm on Ross Lane, walking over the hills to school in Tintenbar Hall.
She remembers early memories of Lennox Head as a town with only a post office and general store and no pub and days at Lake Ainsworth, when Lennox was a small fishing and holiday village with no coast road connecting it to Ballina.
Mavis, with her husband Malcom, opened their first fruit and vegetable store in Lennox in the 80s in what has now become part of the Lennox Surf building. During these years Mavis and the family were living in Alstonville and waking shortly after sunrise to travel to Lennox in their old khaki Valiant Safari station wagon through the hills of Teven and Tintenbar to stock the shelves of produce before unpacking them around sunset to return home. Mavis would spend the day behind the shop counter, a routine that would continue for decades.
In the early 90s Mavis and Malcolm established the business that is still known as Seagrass Greengrocery. At the time Seagrass was the main grocery store in town. It was ‘hard work’ but it was due to this, as well as Mavis’ willingness to have a good conversation and laugh with just about anyone, that Mavis came to form a fond relationship with almost everyone who lived or visited Lennox Head.
Mavis filled simple exercise books with pages of credit or ‘I owe you’ lists for locals young and old who needed some groceries to get them through. While this was perceived as a risky practice by many in the Mercer family, it was extremely rare that a debt was left not settled in full.
Seagrass Greengrocery was sold to the current owners not long before Malcom unfortunately passed away from asbestos related lung cancer in 2002. However, Mavis’ love and talent for home cooking had meant the pair had already expanded in the late 90s also taking over the Lennox Health Food Café. The legend of Mavis grew larger, although, she eventually retired from business in October 2011 at the age of 73.
Mavis will be having a drop-in 80th birthday celebration from 11am on 22 April. It will be held in the CWA Hall at the Lennox Head Community Centre. There will be some of Mavis’s famous cakes and treats on offer (including chocolate slice), as well as some nibbles and refreshments.
If you would like to come along to wish Mavis a happy 80th birthday, please RSVP and find out more information by looking up the Mavis is turning 80 event on Facebook.
Hope to see you there!