The zucchini, broccoli and avocados aren’t piled high in bins, and there are no unwieldy rolls of plastic bags for customers to use to choose their produce.
When Apexa Patel decided to open the Just Ripe Produce market at 364 East Pipeline Road in south Hurst about six months ago, she wasn’t sure if customers would embrace her business model of ordering their vegetables from a had-written menu on a chalk board that often changes daily.
Patel said when people walk in, they are surprised that they don’t see the bins piled high, and it took some getting used to for people to walk up to the counter to place their orders.
“We bring the orders to the counter. They can touch, feel and smell before they buy. We bag it up for them, and they are on their way,” Patel said.
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Her prices are lower than what people often see at larger grocery stores because Just Ripe buys produce from farmers markets and tries to keep food sources local.
During a recent visit, Roma tomatoes were $1.25 for two pounds, and Alabama peaches were $1.99 for six.
Patel, 34, said she wanted to help promote a healthy lifestyle, and it doesn’t hurt that Just Ripe is next to a Planet Fitness.
Just Ripe also boasts a cafe that serves salads, smoothies and freshly squeezed juices.
“Everyone wants something fast without sacrificing quality,” she said. “We think this is between delivery to your home and going out and picking it yourself. We are smack dab in the middle. You don’t have to compromise on quality.”
Now, Patel, who works closely with her family in the business, has expanded to sell produce to restaurants, hotels and juice bars.
Richard Witten, owner of Witten’s Grill and Sports Cafe, stopped in on a recent Thursday night to stock up on fresh green beans and strawberries.
Witten said he is glad to have a reliable place to buy his fresh produce.
“This is a mom-and-pop business. This is all about Hurst, and our neighborhood. I want to support Hurst businesses,” he said.
Alyssa Sanchez, 24, whose brother works at Just Ripe Produce, said she is health conscious and wants to get fresh produce at reasonable prices.
Sanchez said she lives a block from Just Ripe and stops by to get her fruits and veggies.
“I do a lot of paleo stuff. My meals consist of a lot of meats and veggies,” She said.
Sanchez said she spends around $15 for a week’s worth of berries, avocados, broccoli and squash.
She described her first shopping experience as “kind of weird” because the employees choose the produce, but added that now she doesn’t want to shop elsewhere.
“You don’t have to worry about picking everything. They buy what fits their customer base. It’s hard to know how long produce has been out in grocery stores, but here, it probably arrived the same day,” Sanchez said.