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Shop Talk

April 21, 2012

Shop Talk: Annutto's Farm Stand

Annutto's Farm Stand 5396 State Highway 7, Oneonta Owners: Tony Annutto and his daughter, Debbie Annutto Established: 1984 Employees: 8-10 seasonal workers

Annutto's Farm Stand

5396 State Highway 7, Oneonta

Owners: Debbie Annutto and her father, Tony Annutto

Established: 1984

Employees: 8-10 seasonal workers

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Debbie Annutto, co-owner of Annutto's Farm Stand in Oneonta.

Tell me about how your business got started:

We were in business in Herkimer. That's where we're originally from. In 1970, my dad opened a place up. I was very young then. In 1984, we came here. I didn't become a partner with him just then; I was just a little peon. I was 21. We started off small. What it looks like now, it didn't look like this in 1984. We didn't have the green houses or gourmet food products. It was just mostly produce. We kept adding new products. We started with cheeses. The green houses were a big thing. Then we started selling garden goods. Then we put in the cider press, and then we started the bakery. And then we had this brilliant idea about making apple cider doughnuts. They're a big deal. I think the last things we added were New England wood pellets for pellet stoves. We got approached for that. We keep on adding to the store. This year we added a whole new line of homemade pastas that are local, that are awesome. See, this year we're going to start a deli case with cold-cuts. Maybe by June, we'll get it up and running. You just think of different things. We're expanded out. We don't have any more room.

Where do you see this business in five years?

I don't know how much farther we can go because of land. But there's always room to add new products. Finding the right product isn't easy. I've had the experience where you buy a product and you think it's going to sell, and it might not go and sometimes it's a big hit. ... I cannot believe that this soil by FoxFarm has been so popular. I hadn't heard of it until last year. It's a real funky company from out west. ... A lot of young people know it. That blew my mind. I never heard of it, and I'm in the business. I was getting phone calls through the winter with messages asking me, "Are you going to be carrying that soil from FoxFarm again?" That was my biggest surprise in the last 10 years.

What is the most enjoyable part of what you do?

The buying. It's the organizing everything for the green houses. I love doing that. Sitting down with all the salesmen. Seeing what's new out there. I do all the buying, but produce. My father does the produce. He buys all that. It's a big job.

The most challenging?

Trying to keep track of everything. The hours. It's seven days a week, 14-15-hour days. And it's non stop. It's continuous. You don't get a day off. We're seasonal. It's only nine months. That's probably the hardest part of it, the hours.

What are some advantages of doing business in this area?

I think we have a good diversity of people here. ... You know what? It's a really nice community. My father doesn't live here. I've lived here for 24 years. My husband loves it here. He's from Long Island. I just think people are really nice here. I've got so many great customers that I see every week. They're just great people. It's a small town, and it's a nice small town. Our Main Street looks pretty darn good compared to a lot of Main Streets I've seen. And there are a lot of things always going on. ... It's a tight-knit community. You know, we had a fire here a few years ago, and people were right there to help.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

They better have some money to hold them over, because it doesn't happen over night. And you better be prepared to work a real lot. No weekends off. It's definitely good and bad times. It has its ups and downs.

Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Cassandra Miller. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 255, or email cmiller@thedailystar.com.

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