Ellis Farms has opened a new storefront on the lower level of Kingsport Town Center, offering a wide range of jams, fruit butters and their popular honey.
At first glance, one might look right past it. “It” is a small storefront on the lower level of the Kingsport Town Center (formerly known as the Fort Henry Mall), pristine and spare, with tables covered with checked gingham against neutral backgrounds. There’s no music blasting from speakers, no “creative” lighting, just a homegrown, A-plus bounty of jewel-toned honeys, jams, butters, and preserves. There is a small “desk” with a register and a jar full of honey sticks - a bargain at only 25 cents - perfect for mugs of hot tea on cold afternoons.
Welcome to Ellis Farms’ “Local Honey, Produce and Preserves.”
Robert Ellis, proprietor, is one of the young breed of farmers, one whose produce is a familiar site at both the Kingsport and Johnson City Farmers’ Markets. Ellis is proud of the products displayed in the store and promises there will be more in the months to come.
“We will be stocking fresh produce in the store as the growing season arrives. Tomatoes, peaches, peppers and, of course, beans later in the season.”
Ellis has part ownership in multiple farms ranging from Virginia to Florida. So what made him decide to move to the mall?
“I was attracted to all the new stores and activities planned for the mall,” says Ellis. “I think we’re going to see a lot of renewed energy and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Ellis actually started in a small kiosk in the mall last fall.
“I’ve always wanted a storefront,” he admits. “The windows in this store are so inviting and even though they’re empty right now, they’ll be filling up soon!”
He moved his products into the storefront on Feb. 1.
The products are proudly displayed on the tables and prominently priced. There are jams (strawberry, blackberry, grape, cherry, apricot and red raspberry) and fruit butters (apple, pumpkin and pear) - improved and healthier with 50 percent of the sugar removed and replaced with blackberry honey.
“We have a commitment to fresh, healthy products. What we can provide, of course, we will, but we also have strong ties to other farms and products which you will see over the next few months,” Ellis said.
Ellis is very honest when it comes to his goals for the store.
“Of course a good product is important, but I rank excellent customer service as equally important. Every customer that comes in the door will be personally greeted and we will make every effort to know our products and be able to answer questions about them,” he pledged.
This also extends to his sales people, who on this particular day, was Jacob Peavler. Peavler is quiet, but very poised and knowledgeable about the store. He answered customers’ questions and listened intently as they asked about taste, variety, and sometimes talked about their own memories of the product.
And that, perhaps, is what will set this business apart from many. It really is like visiting the local Farmer’s Market (without the bad weather).
Imagine shopping at the Town Center, buying a new dress or shoes, a computer game or book - and picking up a pound or two of ripe tomatoes and a couple of peaches for supper!
Ellis Farms’ Store is located on the Lower Level, next to Great American Cookies, and they’re open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
And, yes, they’ll still be at the Farmers’ Markets too!