Long-time Tampa Bay produce man Leonard Whaley is thriving in new location

Loyal customer base is growing

TAMPA - It's an unexpected place to find farm fresh produce, fair prices and the feeling of family - right in front of the Sunoco gas station and Food Mart on West Platt and South Boulevard in Tampa. That's where you will be pleased to meet 70-year-old Leonard Whaley.

"A lot of people say 'Mr. Whaley, why don't you stay home?' My friends are here. This is my life really," says Whaley.

With the permission of the gas station owner, Whaley posted-up in front of the Food Mart about one year ago to sell a spread of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The tough economy drove him to the new location.

Leonard's family owned and operated Whaley's Market on Howard Avenue in Tampa for many years but  were forced to sell and close the market about three years ago.

Leonard refused to let the family business go, and one year into his new location says "business has been tremendous."

He buys most of his produce from Plant City farmers and feels he can offer lower prices than most big name grocery stores because he doesn't have any overhead.

Leonard sells 2 tomatoes for a dollar; a 6 pound watermelon goes for six dollars; while 4 bananas costs you just a buck. These are just some of the deep discounts Leonard pointed to.

It's fresh, you get it daily and you get it cheaper," Whaley says.

One longtime customer of the Whaley's said, "It's the way he represents it. I know it's a good watermelon because he said it's a good watermelon."

Leonard encourages everyone to stop by his stand, pickup some produce and say hello.

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