Drivers along East Trent Avenue in Spokane probably have seen him – the smiling man standing beside a box of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus waving at passing drivers.
Ted Taylor, 41, owner of Northwest Citrus Plus, has been selling fruit door-to-door for years. For the past three summers, he’s been at his spot at 2900 E. Trent Ave.
“In the history of Spokane, this is the spot,” he said. His spot is right off Freya Street – and he hopes it will be the first exit off the north/south freeway someday.
Taylor has a refrigerated building just steps away where he stores the fruit he gets from local wholesalers. He said he inspects each piece of fruit, making sure it is up to his standards before he sells it.
While he specializes in oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes, he said his customers can order any fruit they want, and he can get it for them. He’ll cut a slice off an orange or a grapefruit for customers to try before they buy.
The summer months are generally busier, but citrus season is during the winter.
“I want the year-round business,” he said. He hopes one day to add a drive-thru to his building.
Standing by his side is his 6-year-old springer spaniel, Toby, who keeps him company while he works.
“He takes the heat and the cold with me,” Taylor said.
Because he’s open every day, he’s enlisted the help of his two sons, Tyler and Teddy, and his wife, Dawny, making it a true family business.
Most of his customers remember him from when he sold fruit door-to-door. He estimates about half of his business is return business.
“Word’s gotten out about it,” he said.
While he guarantees his product, he also gives advice for the best way to store fruit once the customer takes it home. Because he sells by the case, he wants the fruit to last long enough for his customers to enjoy all of it. He said refrigeration is the best way to store citrus, but you can also place the case on wooden pallets in a low, cool, dark room and wrap it in a sleeping bag.
A case of oranges sells for about $40 a case, or $1.12 a pound.
“We try to be affordable,” he said.
Oranges and grapefruits are traditional breakfast items and he sells them to customers with a smile.
“We want to brighten your day,” he said.
His corner serves him well, and he wants that to continue.
“I plan to be permanent here,” he said. “Twenty years from now, I want to be here.”