A longtime local fruit and vegetable market is closing after decades of service in the Manhattan community.
Eastside and Westside markets will close in November, retiring owner Terry Olson, 65, told The Mercury on Monday. She’d given thought to closing the businesses for some time.
But given the desire of the trust of the late Velma L. Kuhn to sell the Eastside Market property and the increasingly difficult logistics of obtaining product as a small retailer, she said the timing finally felt right when she made the decision last week.
“Independent retailers, small retailers like myself, in the produce business over time have found it increasingly challenging to find good produce to ship in to us,” Olson said. “It’s extremely difficult with trucking as well. We get peaches throughout the summer from California, and because of new regulations, it’s just a lot tougher to get those peaches. It’s a nail-biting process.”
Eastside Market’s history dates to the 1940s, when Edith and Bill Bush of St. George operated the produce stand. The McKeeman family then ran the business in the 1970s before Olson, an employee at the market, bought the business in 1976.
The Westside Market ran out of the former Dog ‘n Suds Building from 1979 to 1980 before its current building was built in 1981 at about the same time as the Manhattan Holidome (now Four Points by Sheraton), Olson said.
Since announcing the closure Monday, Olson said she’s been humbled by the community’s response.
“It’s been an overwhelming hug and congratulations,” Olson said. “It’s so humbling to see the affection this community has for our little business. It’s a testament to the dedication of our employees who have cultivated such a bond with our customers.”
In any case, Olson said she’s still set on closing the store.
“It’s the right time to do it, I’m completely convinced,” Olson said. “It’s better to go out on a high note, when I still have my health, than to work at something that’s beyond my capacity. I’m still working like a teenager, and I’m not.”
Her husband, Mike, retired 13 years ago, and Olson said it was about time for her to join him.
“The thing I’m going to miss most is the same things my customers will miss — shopping at my own store, shopping for produce,” Olson said. “I hate letting down my local customers, but I firmly believe that when a void happens, the market fills it.
“Bigger than my shopping, though, I hate disappointing my very dedicated staff,” Olson continued. “They’ve bought into this place as much as me, and they worry about it like I do. These were career people, and I cultivated such a high quality staff.
“As time went by, I felt like since I’d achieved financial success, I kept going because I didn’t want to interrupt the careers of my staff, and I was working for them. I told them last week, and they’ve kept the secret that long. That’s loyalty.”
Olson said that in retirement, she’ll look to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, who all still live within an hour’s drive of Manhattan. She holds the state record in the 1-mile run for women between 60 and 64, and she said she wants to keep that record in the 65-70 age bracket.
“I’m an adventurer, and I have a lot of things left to do,” Olson said. “A few years ago, someone gave me a book called ‘1000 Places to Go Before You Die.’ I’m going to start checking them off of the list.”
The stores’ last day of business is Nov. 23, Olson said, to give customers time to use any unexpired gift cards.