In April 9 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
You might think you know Branscum's Fruit Market. You might be wrong.
The locally owned market has been helping provide fresh fruits, vegetables and various nursery plants to the Russell County community for a lot of years. Now they're doing it in style.
They are able to do this after moving to their new location at 2408 South Hwy 127, just beside the Russell County Middle School.
Joe and June Branscum decided to move the store to take advantage of a better location and to improve the product line and customer service in a nicer building.
The old location on Lakeway Drive served well for many years but Joe Branscum said he wanted the make the new business a more pleasant shopping experience. "That old dark paneling and concrete floor, we just thought it was time for a new place where we could expand our line," said Branscum.
The accompanying picture only tells a part of the story. The new store's setting is cozy and accepting. They've included a deli where lunch patrons can order over a dozen kinds of cold cuts and a half dozen types of cheeses and while you enjoy your lunch they'll slice you a package to go by weight.
They also offer hot sandwiches such as pork barbeque, hot ham and cheese, fried bologna, and special ham biscuits made with premium Penn's Ham for only $.99.
"We're really starting to get a number of lunch time customers," said Cynthia Record, June's mother.
"Teachers from the school stop by and fix a salad to go and as more people find out we have a fast and inexpensive lunch menu we're getting some regulars stop by."
Joe said he had wanted to put more effort into providing the quality products his customers want. "Instead of depending on shipped product like we used to," said Joe. "I'm actually going to the markets to hand pick the products to bring to the store, making sure we get the best product possible for the customer."
After returning from a four day food show in Holmes County, Ohio, one of the largest Amish communities in the world, Joe said he has really increased his line of Walnut Creek Foods products. The company is known for high quality farmer's market items as well as cheeses at a fair price.
The store is already decked out with loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, but Joe promises that the season is just beginning and that only better is to come.
As a member of "Kentucky Proud" Branscum's Fruit Market tries to buy in state and locally as much as they can, and will be introducing their own home grown products.
"We'll be growing some of our own fruits and vegetables," said Joe Branscum. "We'll be buying locally and producing locally from the family farm, the Coffey-Record farm on Gosser Ridge."
This year he said the farm will be dedicating themselves to producing good crops off a couple of acres to see how it works out. "We'll be focusing on heirloom varieties that are not readily available on the market," said Branscum.
The trip to Holmes County excited Branscum about the possibility of introducing regional foods to their lunch menu that may not be as well known in the area but that he's certain will be a big hit among customers. While sharing a few of the ideas, Joe said he'd like to keep that under wraps until he's sure which items he's going to include.
The atmosphere of the new store is enhanced by the introduction of hand crafted wood items for sale, a wider selection of jams and jellies as well as packaged candies. A small and inviting wooden lunch counter also helps complete an upscale farmer's market look not previously seen in Russell County.
But it's the individualized service Joe said he's excited about being able to provide. "We'll be able to better interact with customers here," Joe said. "The new situation will allow better service, better product and better price by going to the markets and laying my eyes on them. Hand picking the product is much better than just accepting shipped product sight unseen."
Along with the lunch menu and deli, Branscum's Fruit Market are also able to put together specialty fruit and vegetable trays and baskets, made to order for customers who will call ahead at 270-866-5250, as well as being able to provide catered style deli trays for meetings and other gatherings. Or stop in anytime, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., closed on Sundays.
As the weather warms Joe says they will be making available spring plants and flowers, a line he says will also be increased. The building, which previously housed a daycare center, has a fenced in area on the side, "We will be putting an awning up to cover part of that area to control the conditions a little better," said Branscum, explaining that they will be able to maintain good quality of the vegetable, fruit and flower plants.
Branscum's Fruit Market has been a staple of Russell County for many years, and with the new location and rededication to product and service, Joe and June Branscum hope to keep the local mainstay a staple for years to come.