At some point, most children run a lemonade stand; Cary Nalls, however, broke into the business world with a produce stand. In the early 1960s, young Cary and his grandparents had a garden that grew more goodies than they could eat. So Cary convinced them to set up a stand, which quickly expanded to a tent, which eventually turned into a permanent structure. By age 15, when most kids are pouring all their time into being popular or getting taller, Cary had himself a bustling business.
Today, family members runs things at Nalls Produce. Despite its success over the years, the store still identifies itself as a roadside market. Trucks arrive multiple times per week loaded with fresh produce, keeping the shelves stocked with seasonal fruits and vegetables. In the fall, Nalls transforms into a pumpkin patch, where children explore tubes and tunnels made of straw; in the winter, the property becomes a Christmas-tree lot. The store remains just as connected to the community now as it was in the '60s, too; it works with local schools, charities, and organizations on numerous projects.
Beyond the striped awning of Fern Street Gourmet lays a deli case, shelves of bottles, and a host of cardboard boxes and wooden crates. The culinary connoisseurs behind the counter want you to know where their goods come from, from fine Spanish wines at budget prices or hard-to-find European candies. Shoppers can browse hundreds of cheeses, meats, beers, and party snacks on their own or turn to staff, who can assemble towering custom gift baskets and point them toward the perfect hostess gift to say "Welcome to your new home" or "Sorry I ate that entire cheese platter last time."