After running a successful farm stand at Daisy Garden on Gillette Avenue for three years, Rita Palma decided it was time to turn her love of natural food into a full-grown operation.
Thus Rita's Real Foods was born out of Palma's passion for finding "local, organic, fresh foods," all of which she offers at the new Bayport business, located at 570 Middle Road.
Although the store only officially opened its doors on June 30, Rita's Real Foods has proven it has real appeal to the Bayport-Blue Point community. The business has already garnered tremendous support from area residents, who bike, walk or jog to the new store. And those methods of transportation were just what Palma was aiming for when she envisioned her business.
"There's no car involved, it's exactly what I wanted," Palma said, "For years I wished there was a place around the corner where we could buy organic."
Aside from the no-vehicle-needed convenience of Rita's Real Foods, Palma herself doesn't have to go far to retrieve the items she sells.
The business sells a combination of organic and local products that are available nearby, and Palma tries to patron as many local vendors as possible.
Free range ducks come from the Jurgielewicz Duck Farm in Moriches; eggs, meats and cheeses come from a farm in Pennsylvania and Palma visits local farms to pick up four times a week.
Everything from organic ice cream to fresh cut flowers, as well as numerous fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice and lentils are available at Rita's. Also included, a cheap and easy self-scoop spices section, where patrons can purchase an ounce of any available spice for less than a dollar.
The business owner, who has lived in Bayport for 42 years, said the turnover rate is quick, and no fresh item stays in the store for more than two or three days.
"My idea was to bring just picked items to the people who want them," she said, "People here are definitely into it, they embrace the concept of local farms and businesses."
Bayport resident Cindy Gamcsik was excited about the new business when she shopped at Rita's for the first time.
"I'm so glad to see she's here," Gamcsik said, "It's so nice and convenient, it's great having this here."
Palma is currently creating the business website and a social media presence and plans to hold a Grand Opening ribbon-cutting event, tentatively scheduled for July 23.
The Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce is proud to welcome a new business to the area, as the newly installed Chamber President Laura Rogacki noted.
"I'm excited there's an organic store here now," she said, "We all encourage each other, especially a new business, it's such a strength within our chamber."