For the past two years, the spring has brought one more reason for me to slow down when I drive by Poor Boys’ Produce on my way in and out of downtown Pulaski. During the school year, I hit the brakes as I round that curve because I want to make sure that I don’t hit any middle school student brave enough to cross the busy road and healthy enough to hike up the long staircase on the other side. I also tap the brakes because I want to avoid the associated ticket if the police officer who helpfully hangs out there in the mornings catches me speeding. But now I also slow down so that I can take in the breathtakingly beautiful scene.
Poor Boys’ hits all of the high points of what we need in downtown Pulaski – a repurposing of old space that meets the needs of a cross section of Pulaski residents (not just the ones with disposable income) and creates economic opportunity for local people.
On a recent walk by the store, I had the opportunity to express my appreciation for the view to Doug Steger, former owner of The Flower Shop in town and current Poor Boys’ employee. He described the produce stand as “an oasis in Pulaski” and I agreed, at the time only thinking of its relative beauty nestled in between the Beijing Motel and the old Pulaski Furniture factory.
But after I left, I thought of the phrase in a different light, too. Oases, obviously, exist in deserts and thinking of it in that context reminded me that Poor Boys’ may be the only thing that keeps downtown Pulaski from being what folks refer to as a food desert, a place where fresh produce is unavailable to anyone who lacks reliable transportation. Poor Boys’ provides an accessible place for people without (and with) cars to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other locally made food products (like yummy Daisy’s bread!) and beautiful plants. And because the produce stand sells (some) locally grown produce and locally produced food products, they are creating economic opportunity for local people.
Poor Boys’ hits all of the high points of what we need in downtown Pulaski – a repurposing of old space that meets the needs of a cross section of Pulaski residents (not just the ones with disposable income) and creates economic opportunity for local people. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s the prettiest entrance to any downtown I’ve ever visited, either.