Garrett and Jennifer Snyder knew they'd found the perfect new home for their family's 63-year-old produce business just minutes into their first visit to Middletown.
"We stopped at a local convenience store and people were holding the doors open for each other," Garrett said. "Everyone just seemed super nice. We couldn't believe it."
That hospitality – combined with the opportunity to immediately move into a 1,600-square-foot space at the Dutch Country Farmers Market in the Middletown Square Shopping Center – convinced the couple they'd finally found a new home for Snyder's Produce.
"We'd been looking at some other locations, but we knew the day we visited here that this is where we wanted to be," Jennifer said. "The location is great. The community is great. And we're so excited to be here."
Originally based in Wayne, Pa., the produce stand was launched by Garrett's great-grandfather in 1950 as a way to make extra money from 90-acre family farm in Lancaster County.
Garrett's uncle eventually took over the business, known as Old Homestead, and continued the family tradition until his long-standing lease at the Lancaster County Farmers Market was suddenly terminated.
That's when 27-year-old Garrett and his 26-year-old wife Jennifer, both Air Force reservists stationed at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, decided to transfer to Dover Air Force Base and make a go at the family business.
As luck would have it, Benjamin Cohen, whose family recently purchased the 6-year-old Dutch County Farmers Market in Middletown, was in the process of searching for a new vendor to replace Sunnyside Produce, which closed last month.
"Bringing Snyder's in is one of the first big changes we've made and really represents what we're trying to do here," Cohen said last week. "It's locally-owned by a couple of young entrepreneurs and I think they're going to be a great addition to our market, along with several other new merchants who will be joining us in the coming weeks."
Garrett and Jennifer officially opened Snyder's Produce on June 6, after spending their first wedding anniversary building the new stand at the rear of the 32,000-square-foot, indoor market.
Jennifer said business has been booming as the community checks out the new stand's wide assortment of fruits and vegetables – the bulk of which is brought in daily from the family farm in Lancaster.
"People have been overwhelmingly supportive," said the civil engineer and former security forces officers. "We started with just the basics, and have been asking our customers what else they would like to see, so for instance, we've added hot peppers this week because a lot of people said that's what they want."
Snyder's also offers regionally-grown sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, asparagus, apples, melons, strawberries, as well as an assortment of flowers grown by Garrett's mother, Denisa Snyder, in the family's greenhouses.
Page 2 of 2 - "It was always my dream to come back home and help out on the farm," said Garrett, a jet engine mechanic and helicopter flight instructor who grew up in Lancaster. "But if you said a year ago that I'd be running a produce stand, I wouldn't have believed you. The stars just sort of lined up for us to be here and we're hoping this is the start of something great."