Lee Snyder grew up in the fresh produce business. First at roadside stands working with a farmer named Joe, and then helping his longtime friend Alfie Oakes, Snyder always has had a hand in bringing fresh produce to Southwest Florida customers.
A couple of years ago, he had a vision to start his own store. Snyder, a Cape Coral High School graduate, learned a lot from his old mentor Joe–about everything except for Joe’s last name.
On Tuesday, Snyder’s vision will become a reality. Farmer Joe’s Fresh Market will open at 1401 SW Pine Island Road in Cape Coral, just east of Chiquita Boulevard and across the street from an Aldi grocery store.
In June 2020, Snyder’s company GNS Holdings paid $1.8 million for the land. Ground broke in late 2020 on the 55,000-square-foot store.
“Being in the produce all my life, over the years, I’ve built up all of these connections,” Snyder said. “You don’t just build these relationships overnight. These were built up over years and years.”
Hanshaw and Oakes farms in Naples, Roso, Gargiolio and Florida Specialties in Immokalee, C&B Farms in Clewiston, Alderman Farms in Boynton Beach and the Troyers in LaBelle, those are just some of the Florida farms with which Snyder has forged business partnerships.
The “perimeter items,” the departments at the side and at the back of most grocery stores, are the main event at Farmer Joe’s, Snyder said.
“It’s a different concept,” he said. “Focusing heavy on the perimeter departments. The store is massive. It’s a 55,000-square-foot store. Our perimeter departments are huge. Our produce department is 13,000 square feet. We have a 48-foot fresh-cut meat counter.”
Farmer Joe’s also will have a 64-foot counter with wrap meats underneath. The scratch bakery has a 48-foot counter. The deli counter measures almost 82 feet long.
“The center store is just enough to satisfy with what we call specialty grocery,” Snyder said. “We’re bringing our meats in from Kansas. That’s where some of the best meats are. We actually took a trip up there. We visited some of the feed yards. Learned about the effective probiotic diets and also how they’re humanely raised.”
Snyder asked Oakes if he wanted to be a business partner at Farmer Joe’s. Oakes declined—other than the business arrangement of supplying some of the fresh foods.
As Snyder talked, a ton of last-minute construction activity took place around him, plus the arrivals of the products he and his crew of about 500 employees will start selling Tuesday.
“I have all the confidence in the world,” Snyder said. “We have a great team.”