A quarter-century in the community
Pyramids of cantaloupe and watermelons; piles of corn still in the husk; fresh berries and peppers nestled in cartons along the shelves. Everyone has seen Jimmy Robinson’s stand along Route 26 in Ocean View, but few know just how far it’s come.
Robinson, who has lived in areas from Bethany to Millville all his life, began working 24 years ago, selling produce from a farm wagon along Route 1, where his grandparents owned property. Robinson’s father, a retired truck driver, helped Jimmy Robinson get himself established in the produce business.
In the early 1990’s, the stand was relocated to its present location along Route 26, and operated by Robinson’s brother, Greg. Jimmy Robinson decided to take over in 1994, and has been selling produce, flowers and gardening supplies ever since.
“When we started up here, we kept trying new things,” Robinson said. “We move a whole lot of produce each year, and I wanted to make the season a little longer, so we started selling flowers.”
When he first began, he originally grew a majority of the vegetables and some of the fruits that he sold, but once it became more of a burden, Robinson turned to local farmers for assistance. He has also established connections in Florida, from where he brings in tropical floral selections.
“I wanted to get flowers in time for Mother’s Day, when the weather breaks,” he said, “and by Memorial Day, we’ll start moving some of our produce.”
The inventory is always changing with the seasons. Around the Thanksgiving holiday, Robinson’s stand markets Christmas trees and wreaths. October is about the only time of the year that business tends to die down a little.
“There’s always something keeping us busy here,” Robinson said, though.
No matter what the season, Robinson said he wouldn’t be able to do what he does if it weren’t for the help from his returning employees, gracious farmers and the habitual customers who have made a point to stop back to the produce stand year after year.
“The help that I have accounts for 100 percent of my business,” he admitted. “There’s a lot of hard work in this business, and you aren’t going to be able to handle it if you don’t have the help.”
Danita, his wife of 27 years, has been a staple for the produce, helping with every aspect of the roadside stand.
“We still have customers come back and tell us they remember back when she was pregnant with our first daughter, Angela,” he said. Both Angela and their second daughter, Ravin, have lent very helpful hands when the seasons draw in more buyers. Customers have even come to recognize the friendly employees at Robinson’s.
“People tell us that they appreciate everyone working here, and that keeps them coming back. We get to know our customers on a first-name basis. I strongly believe that if you’re good to your customers, they’ll be good to you.”
Establishing a friendly relationship with clientele has always been a primary goal for Robinson, who tries to deliver as much of his orders as he can.
“Sometimes, we’re busy and can’t do it ourselves,” he said, “so I let the customer borrow my truck. That familiarity is the biggest thing when dealing with people.” Furthermore, all of his produce is guaranteed, promising satisfaction, no questions asked.
Assistance at the stand has become quite a family affair for Robinson.
“My mother’s fantastic,” he said. “She comes out. And my niece, Logan, she helps out too.” Robinson’s seen many young boys come out and help, and watched them grow. “There’s a lot of physical labor,” he said. “I’d never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do, but I’d watch these boys become men. I’ve grown to know these boys, and it’s a lot like a big family.”
He added that he owes most of his knowledge to local farmer and good friend Russell Banks.
“He taught me a lot,” Robinson said. “I’d work for his dad, and we’d farm in the daytime and catch chickens at night.” He said that only the time and energy needed to run the produce stand keep him from producing what the stand offers. “Farming’s never bothered me. If I could still do all the things I could, I would in a heartbeat.”
Of all his produce, corn is easily the biggest seller. On a busy Saturday in the summertime, Robinson can sell 6,000 ears of corn.
“We’ll start getting the first ears around mid- to late June,” he said. “It’s more of a starter corn. It’s a smaller ear, and it grows quick. But by July 4, we’ll start getting some nice big ears.”
Robinson’s produce stand is located along Route 26, just east of Lord Baltimore Elementary School, beside Bootsie’s BBQ.