You can hear some catchy one-liners while browsing the offerings at The Produce House, a newly opened, 3,000-square-foot market in Concord that specializes in regional and local fare.Example: “If you don’t know us before you come, you will definitely remember us when you leave.”Rob and Becky Stanton – with their sons, Dustin, 13, and Zack, 10 – moved and rebranded their business after their fledgling roadside produce stand attracted a large and loyal customer base. The family started its original stand on Memorial Day 2012. They operated for a short time near George W. Liles Parkway and Weddington Road before moving to a different location on Rock Hill Church Road, across from the S&D Coffee and Tea plant. That stand closed in November.The new market, Rob Stanton said, created 12 full- and part-time jobs, has been open since April, but construction of a nearby gas station made access cumbersome for customers. Since then, new, wider roads and other infrastructure have improved access to the market, and the Stantons will have a grand opening July 20. The event will include activities for kids, free product samples, hundreds of watermelons and multiple community partners, including Cheerwine, which will provide free concessions and other giveaways; frozen treats from Papa Robb’s Paradise Ice; food from the Speakeasy Ale House in Concord; and corn on the cob from Mount Pleasant-based Triple B Roasted Corn.The Stantons said customers often comment on the charm and business savvy of the store’s two youngest salespeople.“We all try to give our customers an experience,” said Zack. “Like Daddy says, ‘We’re not just selling produce; we’re selling an experience.’ ”Dustin described it as a family-oriented place. “We always say that we went from the little tents to the big tent, and this tent won’t blow over,” Dustin said. “We talk to every customer that comes into the door, and we just try to make everybody feel welcome.”Rob Stanton said he started the business to help make ends meet after his construction company lost nearly $30,000 on a job. He and his wife work up to 100 hours per week, he said, traveling four or five times per week to get their produce from farms in Florida, Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina. Last summer and fall, the roadside stand sold about 1,200 cantaloupes, 600 watermelons, 85 to 100 cases of tomatoes, 20 to 30 cases of pears, and plums and 200 bushels of peaches, he said.In the new location, sales have grown rapidly, he said. “Now, we’re moving 1,500 to 2,000 cantaloupes a week, 400 watermelons a week, about 150 cases a week on tomatoes and we’re selling 350 to 500 ciders a week,” said Rob. “We just ordered six pallets, and that’s 1,800 half-gallon ciders we’ll have on hand for our grand opening.” Stanton and his family handle their own marketing and create their own business cards. And they all helped build the market, from hanging drywall to sewing decorative curtains, he said. He said he plans to create a brand around a concept of offering regional fare and a unique shopping experience.The store’s meat comes from Mills Family Farms in Mooresville. Every jarred good in the store bears The Produce House label. The store offers butters and numerous flavors of apple cider, jams, jellies, salsa and salad dressings, all made in Shawnee Springs, Va. The business offers free samples and holds daily tastings of the produce. It amps up the offerings on weekends to include various meats and sometimes pancakes and biscuits, Stanton said. With parent permission, kids can get a lollipop and a balloon. Pets also get treats.“We are only 50 percent complete for what our grand vision is,” said Stanton. “I said a year ago there were big things to come, and look where we’re at now. We have some pretty significant things about to happen, but I can’t … tell quite yet.”Stanton said he invested $150,000 to open the market. He will invest another $350,000 if he’s able to purchase the property, he said, but he won’t know about that for another month.“We want a brand,” said Stanton. “Concord folks told us if we built it, they’d come. Now we just need to see them.”Kenneth McKee, an eight-year Concord resident, was lured in by the store’s sign on U.S. 29 and stopped by for the first time earlier in July to pick up a variety of fruit. Dustin gave him a sample of watermelon and handled the sale from beginning to end.“He’s a true professional. He’s got wonderful manners, a great smile, and he’s just a real smart kid,” said McKee. “When I got to the counter I had my fruit in a different bag and my basket was empty, and he said, ‘You can’t be finished; you’re basket’s still empty.’ And I thought that was really great.”McKee described the place as an attractive market that has an old-time, country feel to it. But watch out.“Once you’re in here, you’re going to buy something,” he said.
Thursday, Jul. 11, 2013
Former roadside market in Concord moves, expands
Want to go? What: The Produce House will have the grand opening of its 3,000-square-foot market, which specializes in regional products. Items for sale range from fruits, jams and jellies to meats and cheeses. Accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer. When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. July 20. Where: 855 Concord Parkway S., building No. 3, Concord, behind the QT gas station on U.S. 29. Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Details: 704-784-0808 or theproducehouse.com. Kudos from customers These comments, edited for content and style, were compiled from The Produce House’s Facebook page, facebook.com/TheProduceHouse, which attracted 70 “likes” in less than two weeks. • Kathy McMahon Morrow: “Stopped by The Produce House, and not only was everyone friendly and helpful, but I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Thanks for the great produce and laughs. Corn and blueberries were delicious. Getting ready to cut up the watermelon and cantaloupe. Will be visiting again real soon.” • Anne David: “Best quality fruit, and you get to sample whatever you buy before you buy it. I had some puppy squash sautéed with Greek seasoning the other day: fantastic. I know I’m getting a good watermelon here.… I love the pork sausage … too.” • Ann Spears White: “Competitive prices, knowledgeable staff, beautiful produce and out-of-this-world squash pickles. Love this place.” • Ken Stewart: “This place totally rocks: the produce, meat, jams, ciders are fantastic. Concord needed a place like this.” • Jessica Jones, “I stopped in this evening and I was very impressed with the service from a nice young man. I really like the Vidalia Onion Smokey Bacon salad dressing, and very good tomatoes.” • Jewel Scott: “Concord people, if you have not already, you should check this place out.”
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