Bill Mintiens
The Redmond Spokesman

Ryan’s Produce

Location: Corner of NW Elm Avenue and 5th Street

Open:10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday

Phone: 541-923-2081

Facebook: facebook.com/ryansproduce

Correction: Ryan’s Produce is open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The days listed were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

Driving north on Fifth Street through Redmond you can’t help but notice the huge tent on your left at NW Elm Avenue.

Ryan’s Produce, a Redmond staple for the last 19 years, has a new home.

The store had been at NW Greenwood Avenue and NW Fifth Street, on property owned by the city’s Urban Renewal Agency. The agency announced last week that it is seeking proposals for the redevelopment of that site for housing, shopping and entertainment uses.

Ryan’s owner Rick Parla cut his teeth working in a Bend produce stand owned by his father in 1996. That experience convinced Parla that fruits and vegetables, and working with family members, was the right path for him.

“Produce stands have always been a family business, an enjoyable business, a fast-paced business,” Parla said.

Parla’s mother, Debbie Mathias, as well as Rick’s wife, brother-in-law, and even his father all work at Ryan’s Produce.

Visiting the stand on opening day, May 22, it was obvious that Ryan’s customers were anxious for the stand to open again. Customers lined the wide aisles, squeezing the tomatoes and tapping on the melons to test for freshness.

Watching Rick Parla interact with customers, it was clear he really enjoys the business and the people who visit Ryan’s.

“The thing that energizes me about this is the people, every year when you open up, you see the same people, their kids getting older, it’s a generational thing,” said Parla.

Ryan’s Produce has a vast selection of brightly colored produce. Parla tries to keep the mix of fruits to vegetables pretty close to 50/50.

“We try to keep it pretty even,” he said.

Parla feels that he has a pretty good handle on what products people want, which has resulted in the stand’s longevity.

“After that many years here, we can pretty much tell what people will want to buy every year,” he said.

But sometimes even Parla is surprised by what becomes a big seller.

“Baby Bok Choy was a surprise last year. I brought some in and I was going through cases of it every week,” he said.

While acknowledging that supermarkets and big box stores have their place, Parla said Ryan’s has advantages over them when it comes to produce.

“Our produce is fresh; we actually go and get it when it’s available from the farms. Right now, it’s still early season so a lot of produce is coming out of the warehouse in Portland (via California and Mexico),” he said.

Same-day pick-up and delivery to Ryan’s is a regular part of the family’s routine.

“My Dad goes to Yakima and picks up fresh-cut asparagus; my brother-in-law does some hauling from the valley, and I go and pick up whatever’s needed,” said Parla.

Ryan’s also works with produce distributors, especially in the early season, when products need to be sourced from farther south where the growing season starts earlier.

“By mid-July about 95 percent of my produce is coming from northwest farmers,” Parla said.

Parla said his produce prices are competitive in the Redmond market.

“We’re competitive and I bring my prices down when I can get local produce cheaper. And we go and pick up products, which cuts out the middle man, and I can charge less,” he said.

Parla’s competitive edge comes from good old product knowledge and customer service, he said.

“We focus on the quality and knowledge of the produce we sell,” he said. “Used to be that stores would teach workers about produce; now, they just teach them how to stack. I teach my employees how to tell when things are ripe, how to pick things out for customers.”

For Parla, that translates into repeat sales and loyal customers.

“When people come here they know they are going to get a quality piece of fruit or vegetable, quality and freshness is our thing,” he said. “If a product is not good right now, I’ll tell a customer to wait until it’s better.”

So who is the typical Ryan’s customer?

Parla said it’s an older demographic.

“I think that’s because older customers grew up that way, shopping at outdoor markets instead of one-stop shopping (at supermarkets),” said Parla.

Nancy Cook of Redmond, a regular customer, has been shopping at Ryan’s for about three years. “Ryan’s has good quality, very fresh, and I like that there are organic products.”

The family-friendly atmosphere on opening day was clearly evident when the Allan family stopped in to shop and visit.

Born and raised in Redmond, Jeremy Allan brought his children, Konner and Kamille, to see Rick on opening day.

“We’ve been coming to Ryan’s ever since it’s been open. It’s always been a friendly place and we like supporting our Redmond businesses,” Jeremy Allan said.

— Contact Bill Mintiens at billmintiens@gmail.com .

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