The Orange Store fruit seller in Fresno, a Fig Garden neighborhood fixture since 1994, has closed. The store at Shaw and Maroa avenues shut its doors Oct. 23, three days after the property was sold.
Store operator Agustin Martinez said the new owner had raised the rent, but he was ready to close the store anyway because the wholesale prices for fresh fruit have risen to the point that it is difficult to make a profit.
“The price of fruit is too high,” Martinez said. “We tried to keep it.”
Curious customers still stop to peer into the window of the now-closed store.
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“My mom loved the oranges,” said Brandon Pasnick, 41, who stopped to take a photo of the building, an old gas station. “This place is going to be missed.”
Until the property sold, it was owned by the Loring family of Clovis.
This place is going to be missed.
Brandon Pasnick, customer
Larry Loring, 64, said his family opened the Orange Store in 1994 to sell oranges from the family farm north of Clovis. Scott Arnett, whose family had a fruit stand at Chestnut and Herndon avenues, became a partner and the Arnett family ran the store for years.
In 2009, the Loring family stopped supplying oranges when it quit farming due to rising costs, especially water costs, Loring said.
That’s when Martinez, an employee for most of the store’s existence, took over and started running it as his own.
Oranges were always the No. 1 seller, he said. But the store also stocked peaches, plums, apples, pluots, yams, lemons, cantaloupes, onions and squash in season, and later blueberries. It was open year round.
This year was especially hard financially because oranges were expensive, even at wholesale prices, he said.
But business slowed for other reasons, he said.
The younger people don’t stop to buy fruit.
Agustin Martinez, The Orange Store
“Many of my customers are older,” he said. “People leave, people die. The younger people don’t stop to buy fruit.”
He misses having the store.
“To me, it’s my life,” he said. “Next, I try to find a job.” He has a son in high school.
It’s unclear what’s next for the property at a busy corner. Attempts to contact the new owner for information were unsuccessful.