FAYETTEVILLE — For four years, residents of Oak Hill and the wider community shopped for fresh produce at Depot Produce and More, operated in the old White Oak Rail Depot on the White Oak Rail Trail along Virginia Street.
Earlier this year, though, owners John and Joyce Brenemen moved their market a few miles north to Court Street in Fayetteville, from a railroad depot into a former gas station.
While Joyce says they were sorry to leave behind their supportive customers in Oak Hill, the move has been good in more ways than one.
“This is a lot better location. We are staying super busy,” she said less than a week after the Court Street Market’s grand opening.
“I have faithful customers already. We’ve had such a good response over here. It’s just amazing.”
Brett and Twila Lively were shopping Friday evening, a pattern already developed.
“After work,” he said, “this is our first stop on Fridays.”
“We get enough to last a few days,” Twila added.
Both John and Joyce grew up in farm families. John, a member of the Fayette County Commission, followed in his father’s footsteps on their 64-acre farm in Scarbro, while Joyce’s family farmed on Wolf Creek.
One of nine children, she said, “We had three huge gardens every year” to help feed the large family.
Because of the illness of John’s father, the Brenemens didn’t have a garden this year on the 10 to 16 acres they normally farm, but that doesn’t mean visitors to the market can’t find fresh produce.
“We strive to get the very best,” Joyce said. “If it’s something we wouldn’t buy, we wouldn’t buy it for someone else.
“I always consider my customers as my family.”
Local produce is featured at the market, but also items from around the southern United States.
“We get products from Florida up,” she said, adding the market also offers fresh eggs from a farm in Danese and even chickens from Rainbow Farms in Summers County.
Plans call for the addition of fresh beef and lamb in the near future.
She stresses that all the products offered at Court Street Market are chemical-free.
As far as local fare is concerned, Joyce welcomes it. “I constantly tell people who come in, if they bring it to me and let me see it and it’s to my approval, I will purchase it. We want to be where we can serve local people local products.
“Getting locally, I can keep the prices affordable,” she added. “We try to keep things reasonable.”
Bins in the former garage bay are filled with the freshest green beans and tomatoes, potatoes and squash. Dried beans are available as well as apples and much more, including jams and jellies and even handcrafted wood items.
Heading into the fall, Court Street Market plans to once again offer pumpkins and continue a tradition started in Oak Hill.
“We have a lot that’s going to happen here soon,” she said, adding the market will host a children’s event during which youngsters may decorate pumpkins and take them home. Also, “we usually end up donating pumpkins for the Pumpkin House (at The Lewis House in Oak Hill).”
And after “pumpkin season” comes Joyce’s favorite time of year.
“I love Christmas. Last year we were privileged to sell Christmas trees from Crickmer Farms. We’re hoping that we’re selected to have the Christmas trees again this year,” she said. “It will be a winter wonderland in here.”
Another change for the market also came with the move from Oak Hill.
Austin Haynes, Joyce’s 22-year-old son, who’s worked with his mother since the opening of Depot Produce, has been named manager at Court Street Market.
“He’s been a good help for us,” she said. “It’s like he just moved right into it.”
Although Haynes doesn’t have the experience on the farms the Brenemens do, he has something else.
“I’ve always been able to connect to people well,” he said. “Over the past four years, I’ve learned a lot about the produce. If we can ever get anything locally, that’s what we want to do.”
Haynes, who majored in business administration at Concord University, said he believes the move to Fayetteville was a good one.
“It’s been very, very busy. We hated to leave Oak Hill, but business started to drop off because people were afraid to be out on the trail, (but) we’re happy to be here.”
Joyce says her initial feelings about the move weren’t positive.
“I’ll be honest,” she said, “I was a little scared.
“I was scared. It was a lot different,” she said, adding that she didn’t examine the space until her husband took care of structural needs including a new roof.
“Once I saw it, I could actually envision how I wanted things. I’m glad we made the move.”
Court Street Market is at 145 S. Court St. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday 12:30 to 5 p.m. year-round.
For more information, call 304-250-5077, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Court Street Market Facebook page.
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