Old Faithful

Ramsey Produce became a staple of Downtown Covington after it opened for business in 2004, providing customers with a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Garber family’s commitment to quality and attention to detail fosters loyalty among its regulars.

by Michelle Floyd

Downtown Covington has seen many changes over the last 20 years, but one staple remains almost unchanged. Ramsey Produce continues to operate a fruit-and-vegetable stand at the corner of Usher and Hendricks streets near The Square.

“Ramsey Produce serves as one of the only places in town where citizens can purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables,” City of Covington Downtown Coordinator Laura Sullivan said. “We are lucky to have Ramsey’s as part of the business landscape.”

Customers can find baskets or single pieces of typical fruits and vegetables like peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, squash, beans, okra and different berries and melons, depending on the time of year.

“Everything is seasonal,” said owner Bill Garber, who estimates that he purchases about 150 different items from the state farmers market to sell at his stand. His attention to detail has not been lost on those he serves. “Everything looks really fresh,” Covington resident Kenya Waterford said, “and there’s nothing like fresh fruits and vegetables and good prices.”

“Ramsey Produce serves as one of the only places in town where citizens can purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables. We are lucky to have Ramsey’s as part of the business landscape.”

Laura Sullivan

Garber’s son, Caleb, believes the customer base consists mostly of locals, although tourists have been known to stop by from time to time.

“We get a lot of regulars. Some people come every day, or at least every other day, or we have people I know who are going to come every Saturday,” he said. “Every once in a while, people stop by from Ohio [or somewhere else]. We’ve had somebody stop in from Germany.”

Ramsey Produce sells to area restaurants like Stalvey’s, Butcher Block, Osake and Tava’s Diner. Bill admits they enjoy getting to know the people who frequent their business.

“We love serving this community, and the customers who shop here are the best people who live in the area,” he said. “Their kids have grown up, and now I’m selling to their kids.”

The Garbers also purchase items like bread and pickled vegetables from nearby vendors, including Mitcham Farm in Oxford and Southern Style Canning in Shady Dale. In addition, Ramsey’s boasts specialty items, like cider and honey, and some meats, like country ham hocks and fatback.

“I come often. I can get in and out quick without having to go to the supermarket, and everything I get here is fresh,” said Dannie Wiggins, who has lived in Covington since 1999. “They always have everything I need, and they are very nice.”

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Wiggins has shopped at the stand since the Garbers took over from original owner Jim Ramsey, who worked at Kroger in the 1950s and had a grocery store in Cliftondale before he retired. He owned and operated the stand from about 2004 to 2018, when his health began to deteriorate. Ramsey died in September 2020. His son, Tony, who co-owns Ramsey Furniture, remains grateful to the Garbers for keeping the name as a way to honor his family. 

“We enjoy having them there,” Tony said. “I think it’s good for the town, and everyone enjoys having it here.”

Bill, who relocated to Georgia from California in 2006, came to own the stand after working there alongside his father, who knew Jim through church.

“[Jim Ramsey] was a very old-school guy,” Bill said. “He was the most honest guy I ever met. He treated people very straightforward and honest. He meant so much to us, so I didn’t even change the name. It takes after him, and it encompasses what he was about.”

Bill now runs the stand with his wife, Michelle. All five of their sons have worked there at one point or another. The two oldest, Sean and Jonathan, are now in the military. While Caleb currently runs most of the day-to-day operations, younger brothers Isaac and David help out during the summers.

“It’s a fun environment to work in,” said Caleb, who finds pride in carrying on the family tradition. “I try to follow in [my dad and grandfather’s] footsteps. They set a really good example.” 

Ramsey Produce, located at 1158 Usher Street in Covington, is open year-round: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Click here to read more stories by Michelle Floyd.

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