A recent Business Monday story on Gordy’s Gift & Garden in Hermantown triggered memories of its start in the 1970s as Gordy’s Farm Market,Â a bustling, old fashioned market with rows of bins brimming with fresh produce.
Think outdoor markets in faraway places… with a roof over it.
The story didn’t get into why owner Gordy Beier stopped carrying produce about 10 years ago, save to say he couldn’t get the freshest produce anymore.
Well, there was a bit more to it.
It’s true, the small local wholesalers who used to get produce directly from the West Coast for him went out of business or left the area.
“I was buying direct from local wholesalers, direct from the coast, so I had the best quality in town,” Gordy said.
But a lot more went into getting the fresh vegetables and fruit he sold. He’d drive to Southern Minnesota to get it right from the farms . He’d get corn from growers and sell it the same day it was picked. He’d buy apples direct from area orchards. He’d pre-ripen peaches and other fruit so customers would have the best results.
But after losing his small wholesalers and going the extra mile seven days a week for 25 years, Gordy wanted to slow down. He tired to find somebody who would do the kind of job he had.
“I couldn’t findÂ anybody to replace me,” he said. “Nobody could quite do it like I did.”
When that quality of produce and level of service couldn’t be continued, he got out. He discontinued the produce and grocery end of the business and built up the gift portion and started leasing out excessÂ space to other businesses.
Gordy still gets customers saying they miss the fresh fruit and vegetables and wish he still carried them.
“We hear it all the time,” he said.
“I miss the produce, too,” he said. “Nobody sold produce like Gordy’s. But I don’t miss all the work associated with it and all the hours.”