Henry’s Produce & Market
The SBDC and Henry’s Produce grow business in Duffield
Received $6,500 award from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and a $25,000 Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) Grant; created 4 jobs.
After losing his job due to COVID cutbacks early in the pandemic, Henry Morris returned to what he knew best — selling produce. He credits the Mountain Empire Community College SBDC for making Henry’s Produce and Market the thriving success it is today.
“I’ve been in produce most of my life,” Henry says. “I sold produce with my father from the back of an old station wagon when I was 10.”
Henry’s latest venture started in Duffield, with three tables, two tents and — as his wife, Renee, put it — a dream.
“Customers told us about Becki O’Quinn at the SBDC,” Henry relates. “She’s helped us like no other!”
Becki’s first step was advising Henry and Renee on putting together a business plan.
“It’s great to have a dream, but getting it on paper makes it real,” Renee says.
Next, Becki helped Renee write a grant application. The result was a $6,500 award from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA). This award allowed Henry and Renee to purchase a heating and cooling unit, walk in cooler, roadside and other signs, which bolstered the business.
Henry and Renee additionally applied for and received a $25,000 Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) Grant, which is a program that aims to improve fresh food availability in low-income areas. This allowed them to upgrade their building with additional walls, insulation, and a covered porch.
Together, these improvements have allowed Henry’s Produce to operate year-round with produce procured from Florida and Georgia during the winter months.
“We also started the Virginia Fresh Match, a program to discount fresh produce 50 percent for customers using an EBT card,” Renee says. “I’ve had customers cry when they got a bushel of beans for $24.”
In July 2021, Henry’s Produce marked a successful first year with a visit by Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Joseph Guthrie.
“Mr. Guthrie was pleased with what we’d done,” Renee notes.
Others in the community have also noticed their efforts. Henry’s Produce now supports four employees and created a local hub for fresh foods. The business continues to successfully grow.
“Becki told us other businesses have looked at us and said, ‘If Henry can do it, we can do it!’” says Renee.
Henry and Renee are pleased that Henry’s Produce has shown others what a successful business in Duffield looks like and inspiring them on their own entrepreneurship journeys.
“We couldn’t have done it without the SBDC,” Henry concluded. “The SBDC is a fantastic organization — we hope it’s around forever.”