Throughout my years, I value my relationships with many in the industry who I’m proud to call my friends. It’s truly a blessing when some have been close to me since childhood. Wendy Williams Carpenter is one of them.
Wendy and I actually grew up together and share the same passion for the growing world. Now, she – along with her husband John and children Isadora, 11, and Ayden, 10 – runs Henry’s Fruit & Company in Charlestown, Rhode Island. I had a chance to reconnect and learn more about her retail store.
Stephanie: How long ago was Henry’s Fruit & Co. started?
Wendy: Henry’s Fruit Company is a retail store and in its fourth year of business. The idea for Henry’s sprouted from the involvement with my husband’s fifth generation family farm, Carpenters Farm in Matunuck, Rhode Island.
Stephanie: What drew you to this type of business and way of life?
Wendy: I was hired to count corn for Carpenter’s Farm, and the owner’s son John and I fell in love. We thought, “What if you could have a farmstand that utilized all local growers?” By doing this, we thought, we could ensure the best quality products from all sources – the cream of the crop. That is exactly what we have done at Henry’s Fruit Center.
Stephanie: What do you offer?
Wendy: From our garden center to produce, local honey, crafters, 4-inch potted plants, perennials, shrubs and produce – the best the area has to offer in quality and price.
Stephanie: Do you do something unique with your day-to-day customers?
Wendy: If a customer asks, “Can you try a cherry before you buy?”, we always answer, “Please do, they are the best in town!”
We encourage our uniqueness on Facebook. For instance, we posted something that said, “Another Busy day at Henry’s…. lots of samples & if ya think you can eat a piece of corn faster then me??? Free Dozen for You!”
Stephanie: How do you market your business to drive traffic to the farmstand?
Wendy: We have roadside signs, word-of-mouth and social media (https://www.facebook.com/HenrysFruitCo). We order fresh produce weekly from local growers. Each year our customers and sales keep growing. We doubled our sales last year for Christmas that being our second year in the Christmas tree business. We buy trees from Ruggles Tree Farm (East Haven, Vermont).
Stephanie: What are your principles to running a successful farmstand?
Wendy: Customer service is our specialty. We have time for all our customers. If you like a planter, but want more purple, then more purple is what you leave with. In my eyes, to be a successful farmstand, you need to have high-quality products, competitive prices and above all, customer service.