ELLERBE — David’s Produce, a longtime staple for fruits, vegetables and plants in Richmond County for 33 years, officially closed its doors last week after announcing the closing on its Facebook page Wednesday.
“Mainly business has declined since the bypass, and it had just come time that we decided,” said owner Jackie Sherrill. “We’re still very involved in agriculture, but we’re not gonna do the day-to-day seven days a week and be open. We grow chickens for Perdue, and we have lots of cows, and we have a lot of things in agriculture that we’re gonna do but it just wasn’t feasible.”
Sherrill, along with her husband David, are both 58 years old and with grandchildren now in the picture, they decided it was finally time to scale back and walk away. Although they said they will miss all the customers and employees they had met and befriended over the years, the U.S. 220 bypass played a part in their shutdown.
“If definitely did,” Sherrill said. “That was the main thing, but it’s kind of also even if the bypass had not come, the bypass gave us the opportunity to make us slow down. We’d done this full-steam, wide open for years. We’d given it our everything. If the bypass had not come, we’d still be going at this huge pace. We have grandchildren now. If you don’t just stop and do some things in your life that you’ve missed all these years, (you never will). It’s just time.”
Sherrill said the most important thing she wanted everyone to take away from the situation was that the family appreciated all the support they’ve received over the years. They’ve been able to serve families starting with parents who then encouraged their kids to frequent the produce stand.
“We have a lot of really good customers that we’ve had over the years from everywhere, and we’re definitely gonna miss those customers,” said Sherrill. “We just decided that there were other things in our lives. We’ve done this for a long time, being open all those years seven days a week. We just decided it was time.”
Although Jackie and David Sherrill are content with their decision, one entity who could suffer a bit in the near future could be the Richmond County Farmers’ Market, where David’s Produce had been a staple for many years.
But Richmond County Cooperative Extension horticulture agent Paige Burns said she looks at it as an opportunity for new and younger farmers to make their mark and sell more for themselves.
“They’ve been around for 33 years and have done a fantastic job,” Burns said of David’s Produce. “It’s a huge loss for all of us. They grew so many different things and did it well. They were hard to beat. This is an opportunity for more and younger farmers to grow and bring in new clientele. When he didn’t have any strawberries in the ground in the fall, I knew. They still have plenty to keep them busy on the farm. Growing produce is hard work.”
The first farmers’ market for 2016 will be on April 30, the last Saturday of the month, on Harrington Square in downtown Rockingham.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson and listen to him at 12:10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on G104.3 FM.