In the late 1990s, some friends of Ray and Becky Hanf launched a clothing line they called “Fresh Produce Sportswear.” Ray — who happened to be a produce vendor by trade — liked look of it, and asked if he could start retailing it.
“I had a cooler and a van and would deliver produce to small restaurants and kitchen until 10 a.m. and then sold clothes after that,” Ray recalls.
“So we had fresh produce the wearable and the edible,” Becky jokes.
On May 28, 1998, the Hanfs opened up their first storefront. And this weekend, they’re marking Mission Fresh Produce’s 20th anniversary — no small feat in today’s business environment.
Becky notes that they’re a true “mom and pop” operation. The couple are the business’s only employees. The shop is closed Sundays and Mondays and they take a one-week vacation once a year. Other than that, you can expect to find at least one of them behind the counter.
“If you come in, you’re going to see one of us,” Becky said.
They cater to a slightly older demographic, and focus on offering cotton, made-in-the-USA products when possible. Unlike when they started 20 years ago, they’re able to reach potential customers easily through the internet and word-of-mouth. Ray remembers spending hours and hours putting together mailers advertising a sale. Today, they share photos of their products on Facebook and customers travel to get them.
“They see something one of their friends is wearing or a photo on the web and come in to see it,” Ray said of their customers.
“Most of our customers like to see things and try them on themselves,” Becky said.
The original location was across the street from their current spot at 6102 Johnson Drive. They made a detour to the Plaza from 2002 to 2004 but “came running back to Mission,” Becky said.
Mission Fresh Fashion will mark its 20th anniversary Friday and Saturday with discounts, raffles, free reusable Mission Fresh Fashion totes and refreshments.