It’s incredible how we move through life, often times never really knowing the stories behind the places we frequent in our day to day lives. Those stories are intricately woven into the tapestries of our local community. One such tale lies in a family-owned produce market that has been a fixture on the Gravenstein Highway since 1965. The Andy’s Produce Market story begins well over 55 years ago. Born on December 14, 1933, Andy Skikos grew up in a family of little means at the base of the Wasatch Mountain range in Ogden, Utah. However, growing up poor only served to emphasize the importance of family values to Andy. While growing up in Ogden, Andy became enamored with and married the love of his life, his high school sweetheart Katy Gridley on January 5, 1953. Shortly thereafter Andy was dreaming about how he would provide for his rapidly growing family. His sister had just travelled to California and set Andy’s wheels turning. The Golden State still held the alure of opportunity and Andy soon picked up the stakes and moved Katy and their five young children to Sonoma County to manifest their dreams.
Andy hit the ground running. Working around the clock Andy found the opportunity he was looking for. Leveraging his previous experience in the produce industry, Andy soon found that he could source fresh quality produce and sell it for a small profit. Striving to support his wife and children Andy began selling produce door to door. The consummate entrepreneur Andy opened produce markets in Sonoma and Napa Counties. At one time running five produce markets simultaneously. He had opened markets in Napa, Santa Rosa, Cotati, Petaluma and Sebastopol. However, Andy knew there was something special about the Sebastopol location.
Situated between Mill Station and Occidental Roads at 1691 Gravenstein Highway North, the Sebastopol location was poised to serve the entire west county. It was also a prime location for visitors heading to Bodega Bay, the Russian River and the surrounding wine country. Andy, his wife, brothers and their families focused their energies and expertise on this flagship location. Andy’s Produce Market was built on the family values Andy himself had grown up with. Hard work, honesty, courageousness, persistence, patience, personal accountability and service to the community became the roots from which the company grew. Andy’s Produce set itself apart from its competitors by bringing in fresh produce daily. A practice that continues to this day with produce buyer “Uncle” Frank Klucznick making nightly trips to San Francisco for the freshest produce. By purchasing fresh quality produce and offering it at reasonable prices Andy found that the shelves of his new flagship store were hard to keep stocked. Local restaurateurs and buyers from other markets were smitten with the quality of Andy’s produce and were buying up inventory faster that he could re-stock it. Andy saw the silver lining and was able to quickly turn this problem in to an opportunity. In the early 90s Andy’s Produce Wholesale Division was born to serve restaurants and markets who were now able to place direct orders which would not impact the retail side of the business.
Andy’s Produce Market continued to grow and change, but a few things never did. Despite evolving to meet the needs of its customers, Andy’s Produce Market has maintained the old-fashioned fruit stand appeal that has become its signature. There has been a continued focus on providing fresh high-quality products as well as, building strong relationships with vendors, customers and employees. Employees at Andy’s are part of the family. Turnover at Andy’s is extremely low. Some employees have worked in the market for over twenty-five years and are on a first name basis with many of the customers. The long tenured employees join in weddings and birthday celebrations and reciprocate with invitations of their own. Produce man and jack of all trades Jack Wingett has been with Andy’s for 35 years and is a testament to how loyalty begets loyalty. As Andy and Katy’s granddaughter Jina Homan puts it, “We strive to keep employees and customers returning for years and years. Family, events and kids are the heart of Andy’s Produce. It’s our way of holding on to our roots and honoring Popa Andy’s legacy.” Family values continue to steer the course of the business and Andy’s Produce market is well into its third-generation of service.
After years of hard work Andy Skikos has transitioned out of the business. However, despite that fact the legacy and tradition of what he has created lives on at Andy’s Produce Market. The current leadership team is made up of family members Jina Homan, Troy Neves, Josh Skikos, Jane Skikos and “uncle” Frank Klucznik. “Being a family business, we roll up our sleeves and do whatever is needed to continue serving our customers. We are blessed with an incredible team of employees which makes us very resilient. We have only shut our doors one time due to a mandatory evacuation.” Says Homan, grandchild number 8 of 19. Fourth generation family members are beginning to earn their stripes in the family business as well. Andy’s Produce Market remains true to its original family values while serving the community and honoring the legacy of Popa Andy Skikos.