A third generation of family ownership will be the last for Penton’s Farm Market, as the business prepares to permanently close its doors Feb. 7.
Kirsten Penton Hill and her husband Andy bought the market from her parents in 1994. That came after a 1960 transfer of ownership from grandparents Harold and Nina Penton, who purchased the business in 1917 and began growing it from a small, roadside orchard that specialized in apples, cherries, and peaches.
“We’re still young enough to do something else and it just feels like the right time,” said Kirsten. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for four to five months.”
Hill said the number of wholesale food suppliers in the Greater Cleveland area has waned from 10 to three. At the same time, larger chains can have produce shipped to them directly. Both factors played a large part in the decision for the small market to close.
“You really have to be your own grower these days if you want to have a chance at competing with the big chains,” she said. “If someone wants to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s an extremely fast-moving business because the product is so perishable. Roadside markets that continue to grow their own control their supply line. They can continue with the old way, but it’s difficult to be a grower and have full selection of produce.”
The market expanded to a year-round schedule in 1960, around the same time as its large barn was constructed.
Since the business normally takes a brief hiatus just after Valentine’s Day, Hill said now seemed like the best time to close, with regard to convenience for customers.
“We’ll miss the smiling faces that have walked through these doors,” she said. “But our kids are now college age and retail has changed. We wouldn’t wish the problems we’ve faced on them and they’re both studying fields of their own.”
While Andy has secured a new position at Beaver Park Marina in Lorain, Kirsten will be on the Lorain County ballot in May as she vies for a spot on the State Central Committee, the governing body of the Ohio Republican Party.
“Andy has a passion for the outdoors so working close to the lake will be great for him,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for politics and already run a local liberty group called Totally Engaged Americans.”
“It’s been a nice 24 years but it seems like it’s just time for a change.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.