NEWBURY — Plum Island may be known as an oceanside retreat where vacationers put aside their diets to indulge a bit. But now those visitors, as well as the island’s residents, can also indulge in some fresh produce along with the guilty pleasures.
Two veterans of the produce trade have opened a new market on Plum Island.
The managers of Food for Thought Market, which had a soft opening on Labor Day weekend, say that the islanders they have met have shown an encouraging interest in organic foods and locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Stephanie Migliozzi, who lives in Merrimac, has partnered with her sister, Melanie Waldman of Newburyport, on the business at 134 Northern Blvd.
Migliozzi said they have met a lot of helpful people on the island so far, and many have their minds on health and eating better.
“We found that a lot of people are interested in getting good healthy food,” said Migliozzi, who lives in Merrimac. “Beside fresh food lines, we have smoothies, frozen yogurt, sandwiches and pizza. So, we offer a variety.”
The sisters grew up in their father’s store — Oh Buster — in Beverly and have been plying the produce trade for almost two decades.
Migliozzi treks into the massive agricultural market in Chelsea almost every day to select fresh items, while Waldman is currently tending to the store.
It might seem that early autumn would be a challenging time to open a shop on summer-centric Plum Island. But the retail store is actually an outgrowth of the sisters’ other business, an online sales operation where customers choose goods that the pair deliver. As they develop the store, they said they will stay in touch with their online customers.
“We have more deliveries in the winter,” said Waldman, who entered the field shortly after graduating from Tufts University in 1989. “So if business is slow at the store when the cold weather comes, we have the delivery service to attend to.
“We’ll be learning at Food for Thought in coming months, and should be ready to be busy during the vacation season next summer.”
The market occupies the former space of Plum Crazy and, prior to that, PJ’s Variety, which was an island institution. The building is owned by Curt Littlefield, a New Hampshire businessman who ran Plum Crazy.
The sisters, who talk about kale, figs and beets with the same relish as some laud the merits of pepperoni pizza and fried cheese dogs, think that the time might be right for their brands of produce. At the least, they believe in their product.
They say that as the culture has moved toward more convenient, ready-to-eat fast foods, the amount of processing, preservatives and sugars has increased in the American diet. Many youngsters are obese; a growing number of adults seem to complain of diabetes or gastrointestinal irregularities, they said.
At Food for Thought Market, they intend to bring homemade food back to the table and fresh fruits and vegetables into shopping bags.
It appears that there’s a brave new culinary world coming to the island, and perhaps the timing is right.
Indeed, one customer encountered in the store this week bought a chicken-salad sandwich for himself — and extended his stay by shopping for some organic vegetables,
“My wife wants to eat organic now,” said the middle-aged lawyer who lives on the island, but didn’t want to give his name. “Shopping here could save me 40 minutes driving into town to a market there.”