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Storey's Fruit & Produce shuts its doors

by Tad Thompson | January 25, 2009
PHILADELPHIA -- At Storey's Fruit & Produce on the Philadelphia Regional Produce Terminal, here, not a single box of produce was in sight Jan. 16.

On a sunny and bitter cold day, Butch Storey attended to the final details as the company prepared to close its doors for good.

Upstairs in the antiquated business offices constructed in 1959, Butch Storey's brother, Danny, and father, Dan, worked on closing the company's accounts.

Danny Storey told The Produce News that his family felt terrible about the money owed to suppliers. The extent of the debt was being calculated as he spoke.

"It's a vicious cycle," Danny Storey said, explaining that in order to pay its suppliers, the company needed to sell more produce. To sell more fresh fruit and vegetables, more product had to be purchased. Finally, he said, one shipper demanded full payment and the firm had no choice but to close its doors.

Danny Storey said that his firm had tried various new angles to increase profitability, but the company found no success in its efforts.

The firm also encountered some tragic circumstances in the past year. In 2008, one of its two truck drivers died in a traffic accident in Philadelphia. The very next week, the other driver was also in a dreadful traffic accident and remains in a coma.

Asked if he was going to retire, Dan Storey replied, "I can't retire." Danny Storey said he would be working to resolve matters with the family firm, and then he will look for a job.

The sales floor was always Butch Storey's domain, and he said his two empty units would be turned back to the market. As Philadelphia is to move into a new produce market within two years, he noted that any new activity in the Storey's Fruit space would be for a short time.