BILLINGS — Fresh produce, in the winter, in Billings. While it's kind of an odd concept, the Produce Depot decided to change things up with a mini farmer's market downtown on Saturday.
The Montana company started selling fruits and vegetables out of their new Billings location right after Thanksgiving with a farmer's market type store, but Saturday was an official grand opening.
Produce Depot partners Casey Anderson and Chris Stinson put together their market in the Fratt Building on 2nd Avenue North and North 29th Street.
The store is in the space once occupied by the Downtown Billings Alliance.
"It’s really just the freshness," Anderson said. "We’re getting it in; a lot of this stuff came in last night or this morning.“
“Casey and I grew up here," Stinson said. "Everybody loves to cook and everybody, they want local.”
Customers packed the Produce Depot and everything sold quickly.
"Today was a good day," Anderson said about the the Saturday sales. "We ordered double and we were out in 45 minutes, an hour again, which is amazing. Tons of support from the community.”
"It’s difficult to maneuver through there when we’re restocking," Stinson said. "Lots of people getting in there, getting their products. There’s some products that go quicker than others. It’s crazy. It’s fun, it’s exciting. You never really see anybody without a smile on their face."
"Just having that interaction with folks where they can come in," Anderson said. "It’s a little bit like combat shopping. It’s a little funny really. I think people enjoy it. We’ll try to keep it going."
Anderson and Stinson are looking at the possibility of a co-op in another part of the building.
The idea would be to sell local products.
“And that’s what we’re hoping for on the corner," Anderson said. "Hoping on opening a co-op down here."
"Getting that stuff out is kind of a goal of ours," Stinson said. "So everybody can have an option."
Customers pay either $20 or $40 dollars to fill their bags with produce.
“It’s kind of a fun experience," Anderson said. "Kind of like Christmas when you get home. You dump your bag out and you have all this fresh food.”
“It’s a blast," Stinson said. "Nothing but positive vibes down here constantly. Being able to do this is awesome.”
The Produce Depot owners said that if the co-op has support, it could happen in the next couple of months.
They're looking for feedback and they said that customers can communicate with them on the the Produce Depot Facebook page.
The Yellowstone Valley Food Hub, Project Lunch and Rae Rae's Bakery came out to the potential corner co-op.
The Billings store is the company's first retail outlet.
It sells wholesale to stores and restaurants in Whitefish, Bozeman and Big Sky.