When I was a little kid, I would look at the old building across the street, day dreaming about what it may look like inside. I dreamed all kinds of things. Was it an ice cream store? Did they have peanuts there? Would I ever get to go in? Who knows why I wondered these things while sitting inside Sunnyside. And who knew someday, I would be able to do more than just peak inside.
My dad rented Sunnyside to other parties for over a decade. During that time, I seldomly visited the store and forgot all about the building across the road. Never in a million years did I think I would have the opportunity to live out my lifelong dream of working in and potentially owning my dad’s former business.
As I neared graduation in 2012, my dad was working on reopening Sunnyside. Before this, I had planned to become a health inspector, while looking for graduate programs in sustainable foods. Instead of accepting the “good job,” as many people referred to it, I decided to work at Sunnyside. Most of my family thought I’d lost my mind. And though I couldn’t explain to them well enough why I made this decision, I knew it was the right one for me and I hoped for my community.
I went in to Sunnyside with the goal of learning how to perform all of my dad’s duties. I knew I wanted to eventually own my own business. What better way to learn than from my old man? Plus, this way, should something ever happen to him, I could make an educated decision on what to do with our store.
The country store business was nothing like what I expected, and I was loving every minute of it. Sure, the work was physically taxing. The returns though were amazing. I got to get re-acclimated with my hometown and the people in it, and I felt like we were helping our community by being there for them within the store. We were more than just a store, we were source for folks to shop, relive old memories, and sit and talk when something was on their mind. I liked being able to provide this type of space for people, and I wanted to be able to do more.
Everyday I worked, I found myself staring across the road at that old building. Once again, my mind wandered about what it could have been and what it could be. Eventually, the opportunity arose for us to purchase it.
We purchased the building across the road with the intention of it being a storage facility. My mind, though, couldn’t help but think that it could house my dream of a market housing local foods. After what I’m sure eventually became annoying to my dad, he supported the idea. I had a space, now it just needed a real plan, and a complete overhaul.
Here’s how that project went:
Almost three years later, Sunnyside Farmers’ Market (SFM), has grown from my dream to sell local foods raised by me and my father, to a multi-vendor space folks in the community look forward to on Saturday mornings. We are still working on renovating the space, and hope that it will be completed soon. Until then we will continue to operate on the lawn and in the Sunnyside Grocery parking lot (inside Sunnyside Grocery on rainy days). It has been a pleasure to learn from and grow with this community and look forward to continuing to do so.
What do you look forward to when the SFM space is fully renovated? Share below.