Since opening The Veggie Wagon in Carolina Beach nearly five years ago, Max and April Sussman have remained more concerned with throwing their support behind local farmers than turning profits for personal gain.
Considering that, the couple’s decision to expand their fresh foods business on the island is, for them, a chance to see higher yields in their endeavor.
The Sussmans announced Wednesday they will open a second Wagon spot in the former Carolina Beach Creamery, 1117 N. Lake Park Blvd., in early April.
Max said the additional location – behind Carolina Beach Town Hall – will give them another kitchen and provide office space for the business’ non-kitchen crew. The second Veggie Wagon will also provide customers with a “nice little spot for special-order pick-ups,” he added.
In addition to produce and farm-fresh products, the shop offers a variety of snacks and meals made in-house. The Veggie Wagon also has a wholesale component, and delivers community-supported agriculture baskets, as well as homemade snacks and goodies to breweries in Wilmington and the Triangle.
As business continues to boom and evolve, Max said he and April have “taken it to the top tier” of what can be done in their existing space at 608 S. Park Blvd. They knew growth necessitated change but chose not to branch out into the city.
“We have been so heavily supported by the community, we felt like it was important to have the expansion on the island,” Max said. “We had other options we could’ve gone with but this seemed like the right move to us.”
Since the new site used to be an eatery, it comes equipped with a move-in ready kitchen with a hood and walk-in freezers and coolers. It will allow The Veggie Wagon to eventually add some items to the menu but it will also give the Sussmans an opportunity to generate more local jobs.
Max said another six to eight people will be hired to handle kitchen operations and other duties at the second shop.
And, he said, it will give the business some much-needed office space.
“Our biggest problem with this [original] location is we didn’t have anywhere for additional employees to go that weren’t in the kitchen…This will give us a place for the people who would need a desk to work,” he noted.
But most importantly, more room means the Sussmans can do more for the farmers they first championed when they opened a little roadside stand in 2009. The brick-and-mortar store followed two years later.
“This really isn’t about April and I; this is about supporting local farmers. We have had to buy less from what they’ve had to sell because of space restrictions. This takes that away now,” Max said. “Now, we can help more people. That’s really the name of the game.”
Hilary Snow is a reporter for Port City Daily. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.