C & C Food Outlet and Farm Fresh Produce celebrates anniversary
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Left, Lorraine Bognar, wife of Jim Bognar, and Diane Sestok, store clerk, invites people to visit C & C Food Outlet and Farm Fresh Produce for its wide selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, groceries and fresh flowers.
There's a corner on Delaware Ave. in Palmerton that whets the appetite and is a feast for the eyes. The appealing curbside kaleidoscope of colors entices drivers and walkers to stop in and shop at C & C Food Outlet and Farm Fresh Produce all year long. That, and the friendly conversation and service received, is what keeps customers coming back weekly.
"We're the only store in town that has a sidewalk sale every week," Jim Bognar, proprietor, says proudly.
C & C Food Outlet and Farm Fresh Produce, a family owned business, has been providing fresh vegetables and fruits, along with many other grocery items, for over 15 years. C & C is celebrating its 7th anniversary at its present location of 380 Delaware Ave. and wants to thank all their customers and friends for their patronage.
Customers find seasonal home grown produce fresh from the local area and Amish farms of Lancaster County. C & C's "potato man" is a farmer in Germansville and the "fruit man's" orchard is in Orefield.
"We're a small corner store where you can find anything from discount groceries to candy, snacks, prepackaged cheese and luncheon meats," says Jim
They also carry a large selection of spices of 70-80 different varieties, Kutztown ring bologna and sometimes ham, and some dairy products like milk and butter.
Another aspect of C & C is the nice selection of seasonal plants and flowers for holidays. Just in time for spring planting, they have tomato, pepper and other vegetable plants for sale. And if you're looking for full beautiful hanging baskets or bedding flower plants to enhance your flower gardens, look no further than C & C.
Jim remembers always being in the produce business, even as a young boy helping his father.
"I started carrying watermelons and 50 lbs. of potatoes to customer's cars when I was six years old," he smiles at the memory. "What I know, I learned from my father, the business people I dealt with and the old people who like to talk. They know a lot. I have the patience to listen."
That patience and listening helped him to save his money so by the time he was 16 years old, he bought a pick-up truck and hustled his own produce.
In 1995, he became a fixture at the Quakertown Farmer's Market and Hometown Farmer's Market, selling only nonperishable items. In 1998, he opened a stall at the Mahoning Valley Farmer's Market and then the store on Delaware Ave., March 1, 2003. He says he never believed the store would do as well as it did. But by that June, he sold his spot at Mahoning and that July started selling produce.
His customers followed him and brought their friends. C & C has customers from Schnecksville, Summit Hill, Hazleton to Effort.
He says not many people know the real name of the store because it's known by so many others like, The Corner Store, Fruit Man, Produce Guy, The Farmer's Market.
Jim doesn't care what customers call them, as long as they keep coming.
And they do because:
"I love their bargains. They have everything. The food is good and tastes great," says customer Joanne Ritter of Treichlers. She comes every Wednesday.
Patricia Bortz of Slatington says she comes weekly for the fruits and vegetables.
"I have a juicer. I couldn't afford to juice if I went somewhere else," she says.
"It's cheap and a nice variety," says Wanda Shimko of Slatington.
Elaine Seltzer of Palmerton comes every week because she thinks the food is good and is cheap.
Behind the scene, C & C Food Outlet has a generous side, too. Jim and his wife, Lorraine, and other family members, donate a lot of food items to local organizations and church food pantries and food banks.
One such is the Living Hope Lighthouse Church of Palmerton where C & C donates vegetables to make soups and fruit for fruit salad. Many of these meals are given to the homeless people who live under the bridges in the Lehigh Valley.
"I come from a poor family growing up and we were often without. Now I want to help those people out there who really need help, people with big families, people who lost their jobs," says Jim.
"We don't let anyone go hungry if we know about them," adds Lorraine.
"The more good you do for people, the more good that will come to you," he says with the wisdom he has gained over the years.
C & C Food Outlet and Farm Fresh Produce is more than a Mom and Pop corner store. It provides a service to the neighborhood that can't be found in the big supermarkets.
"We thrive on giving our customers and friends, the most and the best for their buck," says Jim.
And some good friendly sidewalk conversation.
"Our customers become our friends. We want to thank them all for their patronage over the years."
C & C is open year-round on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.