Cleckler’s Produce re-opens

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Closed since November, Cleckler’s Produce is back in business.

The Dallas Avenue store has been repaired and upgraded, but the produce is still the same quality Selmians expect.

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“We’re back and bigger and better than ever,” said cashier Diane Dempsey.

“I have been a customer here, and when that accident happened, I have not eaten a tomato until (they re-opened),” said customer Sojourner Wanakweli on Wednesday.

Cleckler’s was forced to close when a man driving a stolen car attempted to elude police and ran the car into the building.

The storefront has new glass walls and new furniture.

“I built new shelves, new countertops,” Gary Cleckler said.

Cleckler runs the business owned by his mother Inez.

“We did everything brand new,” he said. “We dropped the ceiling, put in new lights.”

There’s another new feature customers and staff are raving about.

“We’ve even gotten an air conditioner,” Dempsey said. “That’s something we’ve never had.”

Wanakweli said she loves the new look and the cool atmosphere.

“They’ll probably get all of my money now,” Wanakweli said.

Cleckler and Dempsey said business is a little slow right now, but as people find out that they’ve re-opened, traffic is picking up.

An artist painted the new Cleckler’s sign on Thursday and Cleckler and son Jeffrey are steadily making improvements to the structure.

Cleckler said he wants the public to know that the quality of the produce they’re used to purchasing is still the same – fresh.

“She’s built up a reputation for that,” Dempsey said of Inez.

“There are not many places you can go into where you are going to find turnips, squash, turnip greens and shucked corn ready to cook.”

Working to repair the estimated $15,000 in damage to the business, Cleckler has had to do the repairs himself with the help of son Jeffrey and deliveryman, Michael Buxton.

“He has not had a vacation,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said customers had told her they’re so glad the business has reopened.

“It’s so nice to hear that,” she said.

Cleckler said one thing customers love about their business – besides the tomatoes – is the quick service.

“You walk in here, find what you want, throw it on the counter, they ring you up and you’re out the door,” he said.

Cleckler’s is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.