Eleven-year-old Joey Widmer has a summer job. The soon-to-be sixth grader at Ripon Christian School works at Perry’s Market, Manteca’s newest roadside outlet for farm products that the valley is world-famous for — fresh fruits and vegetables.
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the store is a one-stop place where customers can fill their shopping baskets with fruits such as donut peaches, nectarines, oranges, lemons, blueberries, cherries, avocados, and apples, plus vegetables that include squash, zucchini, rhubarb, and bell peppers. Rounding up the inventory is corn, garlic, onion, potato, watermelon, and almond. The almonds are available either shelled or, for a much lower price, with shells.
Perry’s Market opened barely a month ago in a small but spacious red building on Highway 99 Frontage Road on the west side of the freeway. It shares location with the family-owned and operated George Perry & Sons which is widely known for its watermelons and pumpkins. From Lathrop Road, the fruit stand is a quick turn north to the frontage road by a mere couple of minutes, if that.
“We get more stuff every day from local growers,” which accounts for the guaranteed freshness of the wide variety of fruits and vegetables offered for sale, said Joe Widmer, Joey’s father.
“We try to buy from local farmers,” so they not only cater to customers looking for fresh and nutritious farm products but “support local farmers” as well, he said.
Perry’s Market is the brainchild and project of the third-generation members of the Perry family, the children of Art, George, Carol, and David, and the grandchildren of Delphino Perry, an immigrant from the Azores who literally planted the seed that would evolve into the successful Perry & Sons today. A member of this third-generation is Art’s daughter Karen, Joe Widmer’s wife.
Opening Perry’s Market was not an overnight decision.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long time; we want to try something different,” explained Widmer about this particular family business venture.
Several favorable factors contributed to the wisdom of opening the business — its good location, for one thing, which is already well known as the headquarters and main office of Perry & Sons, one of the largest shippers and handlers of watermelons and pumpkins in California. As to location visibility, Perry’s Market has one big advantage. If you’re traveling southbound on Highway 99, you can’t miss the red building and its prominently painted name in front on the frontage road to your right.
Their goal to offer only “quality fruits and vegetables” goes along with the “quality of our watermelon” which is what Perry & Sons is really known for, Widmer noted.
Expansion plans will proceed as Perry’s Market grows, he said. Right now, other varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables are added to the inventory during the week. Future plans being considered include the addition of “maybe a bakery” so they can sell baked goods such as pies, and “beef jerky eventually; we’re trying to expand to that.”
This being its first year in business Perry’s Market will probably remain open throughout the summer and into fall with hard-shell squash and pumpkins offered as the season moves toward autumn. Since they have ample space at their location, plans are under way to have a display that is something close to a pumpkin patch where customers will be able to pick the perfect gourd for their homes, along with the season’s fruits and vegetables.
While Perry’s Market is a new business venture for the younger members of the Perry family, a roadside fruit stand retail concept takes the family back to its roots in the first through mid-half of the 1900s.
Widmer pointed out that Delphino Perry “had a fruitstand at one time next to the George Perry House” right next to Perry’s Market on the 99 Frontage Road. That was around the 1940s through the ‘50s and ‘60s. Then in the 1970s to the 1980s, the Perry family ran a fruit stand on Lathrop Road at Interstate 5 in Lathrop, he said.
With Perry’s Market, now the family’s fourth generation is becoming a part of the American dream-come-true, with 11-year-old Joey, who dreams of being a farmer like his great-grandfather someday.