This no-frills store is drawing people throughout Tuscon, AZ, for its fruits and vegetables.
One of the best-kept secrets in any industry is to find a niche you can call your own, settle into it and own it. City Wide Produce in Tucson, AZ, a third-generation family owned operation, has done just that, putting together more than 65 years of industry experience to offer “great produce at great prices.” The store keeps a small staff of five to six employees and has reported annual sales in the half-million dollar range.
“My grandpa was a farmer in California’s Imperial Valley. My dad was a produce salesman and in the old days, he’d travel with the crops. As a high school kid, I worked the loading docks at the produce port,” says Bob Ingram, company owner along with his wife, Kelly.
The couple met when they both worked for Dole Food Co. in Los Angeles before starting Coast Marketing, a brokerage firm still operating in Salinas, CA. “We moved back to Arizona and designed and built this 12,000-square-foot facility on a couple of acres of industrial property to serve wholesale and retail customers, as well as the general public,” says Ingram.
City Wide Produce offers an array of fresh fruits and vegetables displayed in boxes and crates on shelves along the walls and on floor display tables. Walk the aisles between cucumbers and cantaloupes, peppers and papayas, and the value-per-pound pricing stands out. Sure, some of the zucchini or lemons may have a slight bump or bruise, but that’s why consumers can purchase peppers for 50 cents each, along with similarly priced honeydew melons or bunches of green onions.
While the product line varies by season, it’s extensive. “We buy a lot of stuff F.O.B., but there’s also a market for produce that for some reason didn’t make the A-1 grade for stocking in larger grocery stores. Being in this business for such a long time, I know what to look for when shippers call us with unexpected produce needing a new home. We deal with overruns, DC rejections, off-spec and short-date products, shipping errors and transportation rejections. For a variety of reasons, a problem may arise and a solution is needed — and oftentimes we are that solution,” says Ingram.
The store also sources produce from California and Mexico and Yuma, AZ; at times produce also comes from Washington state. “I go to the border port of Nogales, AZ, where produce comes up from Mexico three or four times a week, and inspect the product myself. I can look at it quickly and determine quality, value, color, smell, flavor and taste,” says Ingram.
Although the business is named City Wide Produce, and does attract customers from all over the city, its core south side clients live in proximity to the site. “This place is like a magnet for people all over town,” says Ingram. “Our primary coverage, about 75 percent, involves a Hispanic market. Because of area demographics and the produce items we vend from Nogales suppliers, I knew this was going to be the area we needed to be in. There are many grocery stores around us, so we’re not short on competition. But our prices are competitive, in line with or better than other options.”
City Wide Produce
6221 S. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85706
P: (520) 295-9000
Hours: Mon – Fri 9 am – 6 pm;
Sat 9 am – 4 pm; Sun 10 am – 4 pm