“If you build it, they will come.”
I appreciate quality. Gone are the days when I reached for cute little shoes with a cute little price tag. I’m too moody and fussy now, and hopefully too wise, to suffer in shoes that hurt my feet. So instead of buying two or three pairs of cute, “affordable” shoes, I buy one comfortable pair. I guess I’m in the no-nonsense season of life.
Since foreign markets gobbled up American manufacturing, quality has become hard to find, even in the coveted name brands of years past. Those jeans I once loved, the tailored suits that fit so well and felt so nice—gone. I hunt for quality, not just for big-ticket items, but for food, too. I find myself triple checking labels to ensure my kids aren’t drinking apple juice from China or Guatemala. (New York is second only to the state of Washington in apple production, yet most of our apple juice comes from foreign countries. I am not making this up. Check the labels.)
When I find quality goods and hard working folks, I drive the extra miles and spend a little more. I want quality-driven, local businesses to succeed. North Star Orchard is way out of my way, but it’s a local gem worthy of the loyalty. I’ve been a customer since we landed in Central New York eight years ago. They have built a solid business and they’re willing to spend time with their customers. I like that. But their products have to rock too, and they do.
North Star Orchard is an “old fashion” market. I love the smells wafting from the bakery any time I visit. They make their own iced blueberry cookies, as assortment of muffins, breads, pies, buttermilk biscuits, and on, and on. They have New York cheeses in large bricks–blue, aged cheddar, horseradish. They grow their own tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn. Right now they have a long tent with rows and rows of drying garlic, hopefully to be braided (I can never find braided garlic). Their blueberry fields are LOADED this year. Team Turtle did what we could yesterday in the hot sun, but Little Man wanted to eat more than I could pick (Shhh! Don’t tell. He’s only 2!). The 4-year old wanted to talk, a lot, while Mommy chased Little Man, took photos and picked berries. Sigh!
In spring, I go to North Star for their annuals. They are a little pricey, but the plants always grow well and I have blooms from purchase time through the first frost; I know I’m getting quality. With perennials, the store is particular about selling only plants that are zoned for our climate. Unlike big chains, they don’t sell lemon trees in Zone 4.
The store is open from April through December. Spring and summer are bustling with berries, plants and produce. In fall, they rev it up again with a corn maze, apple cider, donuts, kettle corn and hay rides. In November, customers put in their pie orders well in advance for Thanksgiving deserts. During the Christmas season, they make beautiful, handmade wreaths and garlands. I am always a little sad when we near the closing date. They shut down around Christmas and don’t open again until April. I hate to see North Star Orchard all buttoned up for four months. I almost want to celebrate when they reopen in April–their reopening means we can finally come out of our dens.
What I’d like to see: I almost don’t want to say it because I want the store to maintain its homegrown, old fashion wholesomeness, but here is goes. I’d love to see a café at the store, with a few menu items (centered around the fresh food from the gardens), along with a few nice wines. It would be a big endeavor—serving food is never easy–but from the looks of it, nothing they’ve done so far has been easy. I bet they could pull it off, and with class. If they do, I’ll revisit and maybe I’ll blog about it again–what a great excuse to keep going back.