Pat and Jay Kelly are nuts! Really, the sign says so.
“Nuts ‘R’ Us” is printed on the large blackboard sign that’s propped in front of their Marco Island Farmers Market booth. Actually, the sign also lists the dozen or more varieties of nuts visible in more than 50 clear containers and cellophane bags in baskets arrayed on the counter and shelves in their booth.
The Kelly’s are truly nutty (i.e. dedicated) purveyors of not only fresh and nutritious nuts, but also an awesome selection of colorful dried fruits as well as edible seeds — raw and roasted. This is their first season on Marco Island, but they started the business two years ago, explained Jay. The Kelly’s have been working the southwest coast farmers market circuit six days a week , working every day but Tuesday at seven farmers’ market locations from Marco Island to Sarasota.
“We started this business at a very opportune time. My wife, Pat, lost her legal secretary job at a big law firm that handled real estate interests and she’s got a few years to go before Social Security kicks in and I’m already retired from my career as a mail order operations executive,” said Jay Kelly.
“Two retired people in one household is two too many,” quipped Kelly, noting as how his wife now had a lot of time on her hands so she designed the very informative P&J’s Nuts ‘R’ Us brochure while Jay drew on his mail order expertise to organize the business end.
Kelly related that (after several years of retirement) he was ready to get actively involved in a people-friendly business that could work as a mail order business. “We are working on developing an Internet operation and sell our product on our website some time in 2011. That would provide an additional level of service to our farmers market booth customers,” he added.
That’s not all. Nuts ‘R’ Us will soon expand its product line by adding several nut confections, such as several kinds of chocolate nut bark, a chocolate pecan fudge, as well as various chocolate covered nuts and chocolate-dipped dried fruits.
Currently their product list includes almonds, whole and sliced natural and popular smokehouse, along with Brazil, cashews, Hazel and macadamia raw nuts and roasted, salted and unsalted. Peanuts are available every which way; along with the pecans, pistachios and soy nuts to name but a few that also come in mixed configurations and a few trail mixes. Ditto for the dried fruits and edible seeds product inventory.
Wednesdays the couple splits. Jay mans the Marco Island booth while Pat tends the Phillippi Creek Estate booth in Sarasota and on Saturdays too. They alternate and one of them works 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Sarasota downtown booth, and the other one works 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the farmers market in Punta Gorda, their home base. Otherwise, customers who enjoy doing the farmers market tour can also find them in the Fort Myers farmers markets downtown on Thursday, Lakes Park on Friday and Sanibel Island on Sunday.