E Street Market brings the best parts of a farmers market without the hassle to downtown Exeter

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By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

EXETER – No store epitomizes Exeter’s “shop local” motto better than its newest retail store. E Street Market is owned by three women who either live, work or do both in Exeter. Every item in the store is made in Tulare County, unless it isn’t made here, and then the products fall into the Central Valley and Central Coast region or, at the very least, are made in California. Some products are even being sold under their own label after being bottled and preserved at local packing houses, wineries or canneries.

Robyn Stearns, Jennifer Davis and Stephanie Guy opened E Street Market on Aug. 19. Davis had the idea for a small market that only carried local goods several years ago but never had the time being a busy mother of two and a small business owner. But one night, “over an exceptional bottle of wine,” Davis, Stearns and Guy began discussing a wine shop with wine accessories where people could shop while waiting for a table at Monet’s. It quickly grew into a quaint shop that offers all of the benefits of a farmers market without the hassle of weather, closing downtown streets and coordinating vendors. When Joshua Tree closed last year, it created an opportunity for the women to take their concept from napkin drawing to drawing in customers.

“We’ll never have a Trader Joes or Whole Foods so why not make our own?,” Stearns said. “We have an abundance of locally produced food but nowhere to buy it.”

On the shelf is Pur Honey from Lindsay, Calif.; cashews from the Naked Nut in Visalia, Calif.; fennel pollen spices from Rebb Firman in Lemon Cove, Calif.; cider from Cider House in Springville, Calif.; jerky from Plano Jerky in Porterville, Calif.; flavored vinegars from Chaparral Gardens in Atascadero, whose owners are from Porterville; and gourmet cured meats from Olli Salumeria in Oceanside, Calif.

“Even if you aren’t looking for gourmet items, you can come here and get weekly items like milk, butter, eggs and bread here that are all local,” Davis said. “It’s a quick place to stop on your way home and get the essentials.”

Even the art on the walls, beautiful pieces portraying local produce, were painted by Melinda Scott of Visalia which hang above locally made aromatherapy products, handwoven towels and coasters as well as handmade pottery from Three Rivers, Calif.

“People will be able to get a unique, handmade gift, a bottle of wine for a party or even a quick snack for lunch,” Davis said. “It’s a little bit of everything with a lot of everything local.”

One of their most popular items is frog balls. At first, Guy said she was a little thrown off by the name of the pickled Brussels sprouts until a young girl shared that it was because the color reminded her of frogs and the shape was round like a ball.

“The name quickly went from being kind of gross to something cute that I can share with customers,” Guy said. “People are coming in all of the time with contacts for local items and we are open to suggestions.”

The idea of having a wine shop is also still part of the plan. E Street Market was approved to sell and hold wine tastings by the Exeter City Council on Sept. 12 and will soon have its licensed approved by California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) following its posting and waiting period. Davis said they should begin selling wine sometime next month and will begin hosting wine tastings during the holidays.

“We will have our own wine label so tourists coming to town can buy an ‘Exeter’ wine. I think the market helps add to our small town charm and we want to do what we can to help promote Exeter,” said the former mayor Stearns.

The strength of their business is not only in a unique concept but also the collective resources of the three women. Stearns family has been in farming for as long as she can remember and her real estate career and its various agriculture land prospects have helped identify many of the farmers who produce items in the store, including her brother Jon Stearns.

Davis has been in the restaurant business since 1998, when she bought the Wildflower Café from Stearns, and has been a foodie her whole life. She has a keen understanding of niche marketing specialty products and branding through her wine bistro Monet’s and has built a network of local producers of specialty bread, wine and other ingredients.

Guy has served wine and handled Monet’s bookkeeping for several years in addition to her day job doing cost accounting for Exeter Engineering, where she’s made a lot of agriculture and packing house contacts through her job with as well as her fiancé, long-time community leader Eddie Reynoso.

The Exeter Chamber of Commerce will hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting for E Street Market at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28 at the store, located at 124 S. E St. in Exeter. The shop features locally crafted artisan honey, olives oils, nuts, jams & jellies, coffee, etc. The store also offers locally produced art, pottery and gift items. The store is a joint venture between Stephanie Guy, Robyn Stearns and Jennifer Davis who invite the community to come and celebrate their new store.

E Street Market is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call the market at 559-592-0635. For more information on holding a ribbon cutting, call the Exeter Chamber at 559-592-2919.

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