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Martin’s Family Fruit Farm to hold off on reopening its retail store

Martin’s Family Fruit Farm will use the downtime to refresh its retail store, says Peter Katona. [Sean Heeger]

While other businesses are taking tentative steps into reopening as coronavirus restrictions are eased, one St. Jacobs farm has decided to hold off opening the doors of its retail operation.

Martin’s Family Fruit Farm will use the downtime that came along with the COVID-19 lockdown to refresh their store in preparation for the harvest season.

The store has been closed since March when the operation “took the initial precaution… to shut down as a safety precaution for our staff and customers,” noted Peter Katona, director of sales and marketing.

Unable to predict how the pandemic would play out and affect operations, they decided since they work with large national grocery chains that they didn’t want to take more risks than necessary, he added.

“We took the proactive decision to close the store temporarily.”

Nearly a decade into the retail store’s operation, and with excess time on their hands, the operators saw the timing as ideal for an overhaul of the establishment.

“We decided that it needed a new coat of paint. We want to take this new opportunity to refresh the walls and display units,” said Katona.

Since the business isn’t selling apples in the summer, they are making the most of a difficult situation, hoping customers look forward to seeing life move back into the store walls this fall. Although the interior work hasn’t begun yet, they hope to get started on that shortly.

In addition to the closure, the store has been running minimal curbside pickups for products such as gift baskets that were in inventory. But that has been the last interaction the workers have had with customers since March.

A loss of revenue is inevitable, however it will not affect the business severely, Katona explained. The operation sees its primary form of income through its partnership with chains such as Costco and Loblaw. The organization also has its processing plant in Elmira where apple chips are made, as well as a newer product, Saladitions, which are a healthy salad topper.

The harvest is a long way down the road, and the crops have been saved from the mild winter.

“What we expect in this fall is more emphasize on our feature products” such as their apples, introducing bulk purchases, as well as increase inside store space to ensure social distancing.

“We would understand their disappointment if a visit to Martin’s Family Fruit Farms is not in their plans for their weekly experience – we understand that,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back in the fall to a whole refreshed apple experience. We are so appreciative of our loyal fanbase and working with people in the local community and having customers we can count on regularly. We hope to increase an enhanced service and look forward to seeing everyone in the fall.”

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