By Carolyn Barbre
One of the attractions of a roadside fruit and vegetable stand is seeing all the colorful fruit displayed in bins and boxes right as you drive up, giving them that real "out in the country" flavor.
But people don't generally consider that all those boxes and bins have to be packed inside the usually quite small fruit stands overnight, sort of like a chinese box. Ali Ali and Nagi Saeed, owners of N&S produce at the corner of Highway 65 and Spruce Road, are solving that problem and expanding at a very busy corner.
Last year a regular stop light with turn lanes was installed by Caltrans at what was formerly a blinking red light intersection. After a lengthy study, it was determined that State Route 137 between Tulare and Lindsay will be the next east-west corridor to be widened between Highway 65 and Highway 99, sometime in the next decade or so.
Shortly after the stop lights were installed, a new, colorful sign, with the look of an outdoor mural, appeared on the corner. It tastefully advertised much of what the little fruit and vegetable stand has for sale. But this was soon hidden by construction signs as apparently every contractor and subcontractor along with the architect and commercial lending institutions connected with the expansion of the business took advantage of an opportunity to advertise at a high traffic corner.
Now, in soggy winter weather, a gas station and good sized mini-mart are starting to take shape. Ali and Saeed already have such a business in Porterville, N S Chevron at 951 W. Tea Pot Dome Ave. They purchased the business in Lindsay about three years ago. Nagi Saeed's nephew, who goes by the same name, but is also called Fadhle, said they wanted to put in the gas station from the beginning, but had a lot of trouble with Caltrans because the road is being widened.
Apparently Caltrans decided that for proper access to the gas station, the produce stand needed to come down or be moved. "We wouldn't have put that up if they didn't tell us we need to move this place," said Fadhle, 18, referring to the new store. He said the mostly glass front on the new building will still provide a nice view of the fruits and vegetables, and they also plan to have a franchised deli inside. Fadhle said the taco truck that is always on site will be moving down the road.
Meanwhile the little business that has been open every single day for the last three years, will shut down in a week or two for a month or six weeks while the present fruit stand is torn down and asphalt is put down for the parking and gas pump areas.
And finally, Fadhle will no longer have to move the produce indoors and back out using a pallet jack.