Atkins Farms Country Market
From apples and peaches to famous cider doughnuts, artisan cheese and craft beers, Atkins Farms Country Market (Atkins) is all about great local food and good people. “I love this business so much, because it’s a combination of two things I love the most: food and people,” shares Pauline Lannon, owner of Atkins. “I enjoy working with our employees and loyal customers. People come to us for the love of more than just food, but fresh, high-quality, locally sourced items they can rely on.”
The New England-based farm and grocery store traces roots back more than 125 years, when founder Howard Atkins’ grandfather came to South Amherst, Mass., and planted the first McIntosh apple trees. In 1962, after Howard was confident that year’s crop was able to be harvested, he built the first retail store. The original steel-framed, one-story building allowed the operation to expand; Howard continued to sell most apples through local wholesale markets within a 100-mile radius of the farm.
A Local Tradition
Although Atkins has grown from Howard’s original single-story building to a 50,000-square-foot facility complete with a recent 4,900-square-foot retail expansion, the company remains dedicated to the finest local ingredients. “We pride ourselves in jumping on board the local movement before it became so popular,” reveals Pauline. “Even back in the early 1960s we had farmers coming in, delivering fresh, seasonal items.”
Unlike larger chain stores and competitors, Atkins makes nearly all of its bakery and deli items in-house, including many from its own produce. “We’re an independent apple, pear and peach grower with a retail side of the business, as well,” details Pauline. “Although our produce selection is what really draws customers to our store, we also offer homemade products, such as our famous apple cider doughnuts, pies, breads, cakes, fruit butters and applesauce.”
Local farm products are often grown for Atkins by local farmers. Atkins products, which are not made on the premises, such as apple and peach butters, are processed by a commercial kitchen, which specifically works with value-added local products such as Atkins’ own fruit.
Pauline reveals the Atkins bakery is famous for pumping out deliciously sweet, cinnamon and sugar-coated apple cider doughnuts. “We try to create products that correspond and highlight our produce,” she says. “One of our customers’ most favorite items is the apple cider doughnut, which we believe we were the first to introduce back in the 1970s.”
Aside from an extensive produce department, bakery and deli, Atkins provides a well-rounded shopping experience with a meat and dairy section, in addition to a florist and gift shop. “We added the meat department in 1995 to allow customers to take care of their weekly shopping all in one place,” explains Pauline. “Over three years ago we developed a small beer and wine selection, which was designed to increase convenience, stocking it with locally brewed beer, artisan ciders and local wines.”
A Greener Operation
Atkins is committed to sustainability, from sourcing local items for the shelves right down to LED light bulbs and a 46-kilowatt solar system. “Our solar panel system generates about 10 percent of the electricity we need to run daily,” notes Pauline. “That might not seem like a lot, but it’s something, and we’re trying to do our part in saving the environment.”
Throughout the store Atkins implements green practices. “The heat generated from our refrigeration system is recycled and used to heat our hot water,” reveals Pauline. “We also recently purchased a cardboard baler to reduce waste; at the end of the day it makes me feel a lot better that we’re doing what we can.”
Atkins has a lot to celebrate in 2013 as the company turns 50 years old. “I’m very excited for this milestone,” shares Pauline, who has been with the company for nearly 50 years herself. “Last year we completed a new 13,000-square-foot warehouse, and we recently reopened our new 4,900-square-foot addition to the store. To celebrate, we invited the local Chamber of Commerce, customers and local producers to come in and sample products. We also had $0.50 hot dogs, scavenger hunts and tours to have fun and recognize the significant event.”
After several years of economic recession and some serious damage to sales due to outside factors such as road construction, Pauline admits the 50-year anniversary of Atkins is well earned and welcomed. “In 2012, we had to deal with major road construction and road closures for about two to three months,” she says. “The construction of a new roundabout made for congestion right in front of the store, followed by our own addition construction; sales were hurt during this time, and now we’re working to get them back up.”
Pauline continues to grow Atkins through a dedication to great food, good people and a strong commitment to support the local community. “We have customers that come in every day and tell us how they love shopping here,” she adds. “They feel like the extra effort we make, whether it’s with local products or the recent addition, is for them, because it is.” For 50 years Atkins Farms Country Market has provided an above average, unique, friendly service grocery shopping experience, and will continue to do so for years to come.
For more information about Atkins Farms Country Market, please visit: www.atkinsfarms.com.