Marini Produce, known for its quality and variety, has been a Brandywine Hundred tradition for over 50 years with a strong family history.
Dante Marini had developed a strong horticultural background while growing up. Together with his father Pasquale, he grew an abundant garden in what is now Bellemeade Court directly behind the market since the early 1950’s. They would sell whatever extra tomatoes, peppers and beans they had from a folding roadside table.
Flash forward to 1967 and Dante was an agriculture chemical sales representative for Stauffer Chemical Company. After making a sales call for a corn farmer in Middletown, Delaware, the farmer was gracious enough to send Dante home with four dozen ears of sweet corn. Having six kids under eight years old at the time, Dante did the only logical thing; he kept one dozen ears for Beebe to prepare for dinner and sent Patti and Joey, the oldest of the Marini’s next generation, to the edge of Veale Road to sell the rest, thus local corn made its debut to the market at only 75 cents a dozen. After having to hand carry the corn to customer’s cars, (they had no bags!) the corn was gone within a couple of hours. After Dante’s next visit to the same farmer the following week, Dante returned home with 100 ears of corn, twice as much as time before and the corn quickly became a hit. It became a weekly occurrence from the Fourth of July to Labor Day, that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday you would find Dante, Beebe and the Marini children selling corn, and tomatoes on Veale Road and that was the beginning of the modern Marini Produce.
Dante gradually added more local products supplied by the region’s top farmers, which added to Dante’s morning produce pick up route to bring all the fruits and vegetables back to Marini Produce and be sold throughout the weekend. However, the addition of some new produce items did come with a family debate. As you can imagine Beebe was not at first happy with the idea of her children carrying large watermelons all day!
The small roadside business was lovingly nicknamed “the happy day spot” in the early 1970’s and 1980’s. In 1971, Dante extended the market to be open seven days a week rather than simply a weekend roadside stand to supply Brandywine Hundred with fresh produce all week long. Things weren’t small for long. As the family grew to 11 kids, Dante had no choice but to grow the business so we could all have a place to work. Dante built a local gem that could support the education of all his children.
Loyal costumers who have shopped at Marini Produce share fond memories of watching the children diligently work in their matching outfits. Many even recall Mom-Mom Edith (Beebe’s mother) sweeping and stocking or Beebe working while carrying a younger Marini in a baby pack on her back. On lucky days, Beebe was able to bring the kids to the community swimming pool on the other side of Veale Road and leave the stand behind with an “honor box” that allowed costumers to come and take as much as they wanted on the honor code that they would leave what they owed. All of the prices were in 25 cent increments so the Marini’s trusted the patrons mental math!
As the business was passed to the next generation, it continued to grow beyond just produce, including an extension of the season to last from Mother’s Day until November. You can now find fresh baked pies and breads, gourmet cheeses, nuts, flowering plants, salsas, salads, and much more unique specialty products. Let’s not forget one of the more famous additions to the Marini clan – NORMAN – the resident pot-bellied pig who is always there wagging his tail with excitement to greet you. This amazing chap even has his own Facebook page!
While we have added many new and exciting things to our market, some things have remained the same. Some of the farmers that Dante went to back in the 1960’s are the same families that we still buy from today! The community has and always will be a critical part of this business. Throughout the past 50 years another constant and priority that has remained the same is the dedication to our customers to provide the freshest top quality produce available with the very best costumer care. We take pride in serving and being a part of the Brandywine Hundred community.
Like our business, the Marini family has also continued to grow; we now have fourth generation Marini’s working (you know the first 3 generations could never have done a webpage) There are 28 grandchildren with more on the way! Marini Produce is a proud tradition and we hope you’ll visit us … and Norman!! Please enjoy pictures of our past along with our story.