It was 1977 when Claire Engel joined Engel’s Market, the Pittsburgh produce store her father bought in 1966.
“We used to be a small retail establishment with a small wholesale operation, but since we closed the retail side in 2012, we’ve been doing mostly wholesale with only a few retail customers,” says she. “I’ve been running things since losing my dad in 1996.”
She explains that when her father bought the business in the mid-1960s, the surrounding community was vibrant and thriving.
“When I was younger, this area had many bakeries, fresh produce markets and grocery stores,” Engel recalls. “But little by little, everything closed up and flew away; I was the last company here as there just wasn’t enough foot traffic.
After Engel realized the market “didn’t belong there anymore,” she realized that it didn’t make sense to keep the retail arm open.
“In addition to our wholesale business, I’m still in the basket business,” she says. “We make many kinds of product gift baskets, especially during the holidays. This side of our business has grown as we ship regionally.
When asked what she loves most about the produce industry, Engel says she loves staying in touch with customers and maintaining interactions.
“It always brings me satisfaction to know that I am playing an active role in the community,” she says. “We were a small community market, and I always said it was important for our community to have the store, but over time the business changed.”
She fondly remembers the many years she spent alongside her father at Engel’s Market.
“My dad was an amazing man, and I learned a lot from him, not just about products, but also about life,” says Engel. “I was lucky to be able to work with him for the 20 years that I did.”
Engel has been a fan of Produce business magazine for over 25 years.
“It’s interesting to see what people are doing elsewhere,” she says. “I love browsing the pages to find new product and industry information. And I’ve been happy to see that the number of women in the industry has increased.
As this month’s winner, Engel will receive a $200 Amazon gift card.
WIN A $200 AMAZON GIFT CARD
Is there anyone in the industry who wouldn’t want $200 to buy almost anything on Amazon? Or better yet… pass the card to someone in need and make the world a better place!