When customers come into Quality & Value Produce looking for a specific item, owner Kais Zaya makes sure they can get it, even if they don't have it in stock that day.
“I take requests from people, and then I carry the item they ask for," Zaya, a Northville resident, said. "They call me for two or three pounds of a product, and tell me to get more of this or more of that. I listen to them, and they appreciate it.”
The store, located at 16855 Ridge Road in the Ridgewood Plaza, opened at the end of May.
The store is not only stocked with produce, but also many other products to accommodate all of the families and kids in the area, such as beverages, ice cream, bread, chips, and candy.
“When I opened, my son, Kyle, said to me, ‘If you want to see me three times a day, carry candy,’ so I that’s what I did," Zaya said. "Because I love sweets and candy myself, I carry the best candy, and most of the brands you can find here, you won’t be able to find at CVS, Rite Aid, or a gas station. For example, I have German and Irish candy, and candy from Turkey."
Hoping for growth
Although Zaya is happy with how well business has been so far, he knows from prior experience that the summer is a slow time for produce sales for many reasons.
“People like to grow things in their backyard this time of the year, they like to go to the farm to pick their own things, and they leave town for vacation. Also, this is a new store, and not too many people know about it yet. I’m not worried though because I know I’m going to make it,” Zaya said.
While the availability of many products changes depending on the season, Zaya likes to sell specialty produce all year round in order to get customers to try new products.
“In the summer, we have lemon drop melon and tuscan melon, and in the fall, we will start selling sour oranges and sweet limes, both of which a lot of people don’t know anything about I like to talk to customers about these products and have them taste it for themselves, so they know how good they are,” said Zaya.
More Organic Products to Come
When it comes to Zaya’s selection of organic products, he plans to expand this part of the store in the future.
“I currently sometimes get organic grapes and cherries, and I have organic dates and juice all the time. We usually have around seven or eight different kinds of organic juice. When I get busier with heavier traffic, I’m going to focus more on organic products because I know that is what people in this area enjoy,” Zaya said.
In addition to increasing the number of his organic products, Zaya will also soon be keeping the store open for longer hours too.
“My hours are now 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, but this is going to change very soon because a dance studio is going to open next door in about three weeks. They are going to close at 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., so I am going to close with them,” said Zaya.
Zaya has a lot of experience when it comes to selling produce because of his background working at the Detroit Produce Terminal, which sells produce to retail stores all across Michigan.
“Because of all of the years I spent at the terminal, I know how to pick the best products, and I get the best prices. I know it is going to take time for me to build the business, but not a long time because this is what I have done all of my life,” said Zaya.
While Zaya believes the plaza’s landlord hopes Quality & Value Produce will bring a meat market, bakery, or liquor store to the plaza to compliment the produce, Zaya has specific goals for his own store too.
“I don’t want to be rich, honestly. I just want to pay my bills and my kids’ college tuition and their soccer. I opened the store here because I love this area. In the future, I would like to have a table outside with a vendor, and have someone stocking the produce for me. I don’t mind doing it, but I would enjoy spending more time buying with the vendor,” Zaya said.
Have you already made purchases at Quality & Value Produce? Share your experience with us in the comments.