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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Local produce for local people


The Yolo Fruit Stand: more than just an average produce market

Nestled in the farmlands surrounding Interstate 80 stands a true California landmark. The Yolo Fruit Stand not only serves as a local vendor for Yolo County citizens and passersby alike, but also represents the importance of providing healthy and affordable food.

Maria Tsousis and her husband, Gus, have owned the fruit stand since they bought it from a family friend. They promised to keep the store in good hands, and several years later, their promise still holds true.

“My husband has been in the produce business for 35 years so we have a lot of experience with the area,” Mrs. Tsousis said. “The business grows more and more every day and more people are coming because we carry specific things that they ask for.”

According to Mr. Tsousis, the quality of the produce is key to attracting returning customers. Because of the stand’s unusual location, that they have to remain distinct from stores that are more readily available to the Davis community.

“A lot of produce is different from what [is] in the stores,” Mr. Tsousis said. “For example, the tomatoes we sell are homegrown by farmers in local fields.”

The stores often sell green and unripe produce that ripens in gas, but all of the fruit sold at the stand is straight from local farms and orchards. People can normally buy berries and grapes that have been processed and placed into plastic containers from grocery stores, but the Yolo Fruit Stand sells these items loose and unprocessed, which emphasizes the Tsousis’ mission of preserving the integrity and natural qualities of food.

The high demand for local, fresh and organic food in Davis and nearby communities is a main reason for the popularity of the fruit stand. For this reason, students, faculty and community members alike will make the 12-minute drive out to support the vendor that provides this kind of produce.

“We see all kinds of people,” Mrs. Tsousis said. “During the winter time we have a lot of students and faculty from Davis, and even people from Sacramento, Folsom and other [cities].”

Tim Shquti, the stand’s manager, has witnessed the business’ growth since it was purchased, and is dedicated to ensuring that the fruit stand stays prevalent within the Yolo community.

“The establishment has created a lot of returning customers even though the economy has dropped over the past few years,” Shquti said. “[Because] the fruit stand is open all year round […] we have grown as a business and established a good relationship with the customers. I have definitely seen a lot of students stop by and shop because they will save [more] money when they shop here [when] compared to the big-name stores.”

While it may seem counterintuitive to keep the business out on the side of a main interstate highway, the fruit stand’s unusual location has actually enhanced its popularity and clientele. The Yolo Fruit Stand is easily accessed off of the freeway and is a convenient stop for travellers on their way to or from Davis.

“When people drive from place to place, they stop by the stand because of our location,” Mrs. Tsousis said. “People stop just for snacks and even this little bit helps business. We appreciate everybody coming here even just to buy a bottle of water.”

The Yolo Fruit Stand is also a cultural market that provides diverse products to many community members, such as dried fruits and nuts.

“We have food items from several cultures [including] Iranian, Indian, Russian, Greek and Turkish [specialties],” Mrs. Tsousis said.  “Sometimes someone comes to the store and says that they miss a certain food item that they had in a different place. So I will look around and try to get these different foods and order them for the store. By doing that I create a good selection for the store.”

Besides the emphasis on selling local and fresh products, the fruit stand also prides itself on its individuality. The in-season produce which is currently corn, honeydew, kiwi and grapes is always grown locally and collected from and around Davis. The quality, unique environment and affordable prices contribute to the individuality and popularity of the Yolo Fruit Stand.

Just as a celebrity’s popularity depends on the fans’ loyalty, the Yolo Fruit Stand depends on the loyalty of its customers. Without the regulars who make the trip out and give their feedback to the employees, the business would not thrive as it does.

“The customers are what motivate us,” Mrs. Tsousis said. “We try very hard to succeed in this business and the customers always help us do that. We appreciate the people who tell their friends and spread the word, because that is how we get better and better every time.”
Written by: Gillian Allen — features@theaggie.org


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