WABASSO — Hale Groves’ old retail store, a Wabasso landmark, is set to reopen before Thanksgiving, executives at Southern Fulfillment Services said Wednesday.
Rollins Brown, general counsel for Southern Fulfillment Services, which will run store under the name “Hale Groves River Market,” said the store opening should occur sometime next week.
“We’re very excited about the opening,” Brown said. “It should be before Thanksgiving, but we don’t have an exact date yet.”
The company will offer traditional Hale Grove products along with bagged citrus, freshly squeezed juice, tropical honeys, jellies, marmalades, candies, gourmet gifts, other citrus specialties and a new addition — fresh produce. The store has sat vacant for more than a year and has undergone extensive renovations.
“We’re very excited to be able to offer farm fresh produce,” said Alex Brown, a vice president at Hale Groves. “We will offer as much local produce as possible and our prices will be very reasonable, and at times, lower than supermarkets.”
Local resident Judy Daberkow has been hired as the store’s general manager and will oversee about 10 to 15 employees at the retail location.
“We have designed Hale Groves River Market to be a charming marketplace with high quality fruit and fresh produce at very reasonable prices,” said Daberkow, who was a long-time employee of Hale Groves. “Additionally, folks can come in the store to place gift orders for shipping across the U.S. and Canada.”
Since 1947, Hale Groves has had tremendous success shipping Indian River citrus and gourmet food gifts all across the country through catalog and Internet marketing. In 2006, Hales Groves announced a partnership under the new ownership of Southern Fulfillment Services.
“The re-opening of the store marks a return to our local customers and to our roots,” added Daberkow. “We’ve been diligently cleaning and painting the store these past few months and every day folks stop by to see if we’re open. The buzz is exciting and the many who stop by say they can’t wait for opening day.”
At one time, Hale Groves was one of the largest gift fruit shippers in the country and one of the best-known local names.
Citrus diseases and urbanization may have contributed to the company shuttering stores on Beachland Boulevard and 580 U.S. 1 in 2004. Both were considered landmarks in Vero Beach.
Polly and Steve Hale Jr., who used a shed behind their home to pack the fruit for shipping, opened Hale Groves as a fruit stand along U.S. 1 in 1947. Their first mailing list was made up of friends, relatives and customers who stopped at the stand to buy fruit.