Henry Detwiler Sr., the 55-year-old founder of Detwiler’s Farm Market, tied on an apron Wednesday morning and fried over-sized doughnuts that were served piping hot to customers at the original family store at 6000 Palmer Blvd.
The glazed doughnuts, a gift to customers, normally are not available at Detwiler’s.
Making doughnuts from scratch and using a tin can to cut them out of the dough took Detwiler back to his childhood, when his father fell ill and his mother helped hold the Detwilers together by making and selling the pastry.
“Life is not always easy,” Detwiler said, reflecting on how blessed his family has been since opening their original store a decade ago in Sarasota.
At one time, Henry and Natalie Detwiler lived in a Myakka City mobile home with their nine children.
The Detwilers celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of their original farm store on Wednesday. The store measures only about 5,000 square feet, but it set the pattern for larger Detwiler’s stores to follow with an emphasis on price, freshness and farm-style promotions in almost every aisle, attracting a near cult-like following.
A fifth store, also in a former Winn-Dixie, on Clark Road in Sarasota, is being readied for an opening later this year.
“I had no idea we would do what we have done. We just wanted to give people the best produce at the best price and best service,” Detwiler said Wednesday.
The Detwilers say they hope to open the Clark Road store by Christmas — or perhaps by Thanksgiving if everything goes smoothly.
Asked about opening additional stores, Sam Detwiler, the oldest son of Henry and Natalie Detwiler and who serves as president of Detwilers, weighed his words carefully.
“We are always looking. Right now that’s what we can comment on. We are focused on getting our Clark Road store open. If you grow too fast, you can lose the family ethic. That can hurt you,” he said.
Brenda Spratt, who formerly worked for a larger supermarket chain, has been with Detwiler’s for 2 1/2 years.
The Detwilers treat their staff and customers like family, she said.
One customer, who declined to give her name, said she has been shopping at Detwiler’s most of the past decade, citing the price of produce.
“You have a health benefit if you can get produce at a good price,” the customer said. “I am looking forward to the new Clark Road store opening.”
For more about Detwiler’s, visit detwilermarket.com.