St. Elmo market specializes in fresh, locally grown produce

St. Elmo market specializes in fresh, locally grown produce

March 8th, 2011 by Brittany Cofer in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press Aljere Leffew, left, and his grandfather Larry High pick out oranges Monday at Mountain Valley Market, a recently opened store in St. Elmo. The store provides fresh produce and as the temperatures warm up the store hopes to provide locally grown produce.

• Name: Mountain Valley Market

• Location: 3742 Tennessee Ave.

• Products/services: A wide array of farm fresh fruits and vegetables, local floral arrangements and hand-made soaps, candles and birdhouses. The market will be open year-round and will focus on providing local seasonal produce.

• Age: Starting out as a roadside produce stand in St. Elmo two years ago, the family-owned and operated Mountain Valley Market opened in its freestanding building on Tennessee Avenue on Saturday.

• About the building: The market is currently using about half of the building's 6,000 square feet. It is formerly the home of Blockbuster Video, which shuttered its doors about a year ago in a downsizing. Though positioned directly next to the Bi-Lo in St. Elmo, the business will be competitive and doesn't have much to worry about, co-owner Jonathan McBee said.

• Projected annual sales: Right now co-owners McBee and David Stoner estimate they'll have about $50,000 in their first year. "In produce, it's a lot of hard work, and there's not much money to be made," McBee said.

• Plans for expanding: Within the next year McBee plans to set up three additional locations - Chickamauga, Fort Oglethorpe and East Ridge. He also plans to begin offering a line of organic produce.

- Compiled by staff writer Brittany Cofer, bcofer@timesfreepress.com, 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/brittanycofer.