A helper waits for customers at Louie’s produce stand on Holmes and Blue Ridge Blvd. Photo by Kathy Feist
Louie, the Produce Guy
By Christina McDonough Hunt
The produce stand located on the corner of Holmes Rd. and Blue Ridge Blvd. is busy with fiercely loyal customers and dynamite employees. But, the question everyone is asking is “What’s Louie’s story?”.
Louis is the owner of the produce stand. He is 72 years old, and he’ll never tell you his last name. He opened the Martin City stand 5 years ago, and selling produce has been a family business tradition he has continued for decades.
“My dad taught me the business,” Louie said. “We used to go to the farmers at the city market, get produce, and go door to door selling that produce.”
Louie was born and raised in the North end of Kansas City at 5th & Troost. His grandparents were from Italy.
When Louie was 18 years old, he married his love, Paula. They had two daughters and six grandchildren. His daughters and grandchildren reside in Kansas City. Paula passed away from cancer.
Louie joined the army when he was 20 and served in Vietnam for two years.
“I remember people were mistreated,” he recalled. “[That experience] helps you grow up.”
Louie has made a career selling produce because “that’s what fed us as kids”. He has owned multiple produce stands throughout Kansas City, including the one that was located at Antioch & Vivion. He gets his produce from different regions such as in Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He also has farmers that grow produce for him in Jamesport, Marshall, and Rich Hill, all located in Missouri.
He most values his children and grandchildren, and he’s very proud of his employees. One bright face, whom customers have come to love, is Paul Henry. Henry is always there to help customers with anything they need; however, he is not an employee.
“I’m friends with Paul’s dad,” said Louie. “He’s a great guy. He’s helpful. And the customers say he’s funny.”
“I just like working,” Henry laughed. “It’s something to do! People ask me how I can stand working here with the heat, but I just say, ‘I’m working on my tan!’”
Owning a produce stand is a hard business, but Louie has made it his living.
“It’s a 24/7 job to keep this operational. It’s a hard job, but it’s good.”
The produce stand is open from 9am-6pm, 7 days a week.