Aug 31, 2017
by Thomas Martin
It’s always an interesting experience marketing at the Fruit Basket on Highway 12. First, there is a collection of friendly people waiting to answer your every question. Second, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from which to choose. In addition, there is a myriad of specialty items and dried fruit to savor one’s palate.
The Fruit Basket is one of three markets run by the Homran brothers.Omar manages the Springs market. His brothers manage a market in Hayward as well as the Fruit Basket on Hwy 121 south of Four Corners.
People ask how it is their fruits and vegetables are always so fresh? According to Omar, the brothers make trips several times a week to purchase ripe produce for all the stores. The central wholesale market is in San Francisco. However, the Homran brothers travel to Stockton, Fresno, and other locales, to discover fruits and vegetables ready for the customer’s table.
In addition to sales on site, the Basket delivers products to a variety of local businesses. Schools receive donated products from time to time.Flowery School periodically markets products from the student farm at the Fruit Basket.Diane Casen, a customer, answered for many when asked why she shops the Fruit Basket, “I come here first, then go to other stores.The Fruit Basket has better prices and better produce. It beats other grocery stores by a mile.”
When the business was initially purchased the brothers gave up a license for beer and wine. For a while business dropped off, but recently it has been steadily improving.
The eight employees, Maria, Marco, Michael, Adger, Alex, Javier, Vicente, and manager, Omar, are always ready to assist customers.Maria Alcaraz has worked at the Basket for eighteen years. She meets you with a generous smile Monday to Friday. Ms. Alcaraz has three children, one at Sonoma Valley High, one in Pre-School, and one not yet old enough for school. Alex Gruber grew up in Sonoma, attended Sonoma Valley HS, and works Friday through Sunday. Michael, Adger, Javier, and Vicente always stand ready to assist customers. Javier and Vicente have each worked at the Fruit Basket for twenty years!
Marco Dalakiaris purchased the Fruit Basket in 1984and entered the competitive retail fruit and vegetable business. Marco points out that retail fruit and vegetables is a time consuming business. “It’s a fourteen hour day beginning at 4 a.m. when you are off to the wholesale produce center in San Francisco.” Asked why everything at the Fruit Basket is so much fresher than in regular markets Marco replied, “They buy in bulk for many stores; we are selective and buy only for Sonoma.”
Marco arrived in the United States in 1976 at the age of thirty. His initial employment in Sonoma was at Vella’s Cheese Factory on First Street East. Asked if he ever returns to Greece, Marco says, “Yes, every so often, to his home on the Isle of Siculeloz.”On many Friday afternoons Marco and friends will be seen gathered in animated conversation around a table in front of the Fruit Basket as motorists whiz by on Highway 12.
A Mini-U.N. At The Cash Register! This writer had an interesting experience on a recent visit. Two customers were waiting in the check-out line. A young woman, Adger, a new employee, was learning how to look up prices and work the register. It was Adger’s first day on the job. She appeared nervous standing with her boss, Omar, watching as well as Marco and me. The customer, a handsome grey haired fellow commented, “Now give her time! I remember my first day on the job in Ireland, where I earned a dollar a day. It takes time.” It struck me how interesting this was; a young Anglo woman, a Greek, a Yemini, an Irishman, and me whose parents were Canadian and French standing together in a Sonoma marketplace. I was reminded of the T-shirts sold at La Luz, which carry the words, “We Are All Immigrants!”
The Fruit Basket remains a centerpiece for resident’s shopping amidst the many changes, fresh paint, and new faces of the Springs Renaissance.
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