Twenty years is a long time. It’s enough time for a reputable organization to build a solid reputation, or for a new born baby to grow into a fully grown adult. Heck, for many animals, twenty years is most, if not all, of their life span. If I asked you what you were doing twenty years ago, you would likely feel like you were thinking of an entirely different person (I know I would), and if I asked you what you expect from yourself in the next twenty years, you’d probably tell me you haven’t thought that far ahead – and I don’t blame you. Twenty years is a long time; anything could happen between now and then.
For many businesses, to be able to say that they’ve lasted for twenty years would be the end goal, a level of achievement that they could only dream of meeting; for Misty Meadows Market, located at the intersection of County Rd 14 and Hwy 89 in Conn (East of Mount Forest), having just finished a major renovation and grand reopening a couple of years ago, twenty years is hopefully just the start of more wonderful years to come of bringing affordable smalltown hospitality to their local community and beyond. In fact, that’s right in their mission statement, along with a hope that, “each one who enters [their] doors receive fair treatment and that they leave to be a blessing to others.”
So, where does a twenty-year business start? For Misty Meadows Market, it is with Alvin Martin selling his home grown produce at a small stand he’d placed on the side of the road in 2002. Having grown up selling produce at the end of his father’s farm, Alvin always had a passion for it (and still does to this day); he lived one concession away and chose Conn as an intersection with a healthy flow of traffic, figuring it’d make good for sales. For two years, he would ride over, hitching his horse at an overgrown school house property and selling his produce – until the MTO shut him down.
What would’ve been the end of the story turned into an amusing twist. Remember that overgrown property Alvin had been hitching to for two years? Well, he did that all that time without realizing that it was for sale. So, he bought it, built a house with a walkout basement and on July 1st, 2005, the first Misty Meadows store was opened. Although they started with produce only, some of the first things they were asked for were milk, eggs and bread. So, their groceries began to grow. This is the way that most things at Misty Meadows have been added; someone asked for something and they did what they could to provide it for them. It’s just more of that smalltown hospitality in action.
In 2007 they added a bakery in the upstairs of that first building; today they still offer homemade baked goods (particularly at Christmas with special treats for the holiday season), soups and sandwiches, and ice cream (both hard scoop and soft serve). 2011 saw the return to their roots as they decided to put up tents and open their outdoor market, selling produce from stands once more, as a means to create more space and to be able to offer their customers as much variety as possible.
However, their next big change wasn’t until 2014 when they purchased the land of their neighbours, the Rice Property, which moved them more or less to where they are today at the true corner of County Rd 14 and Hwy 89. On this property, there was a fry shack, which Misty Meadows renovated and reopened as their food booth, just one more stepping stone in their twenty-year journey.
Each move that they made over the years has given Misty Meadows more space, enabling them to better serve that affordable smalltown hospitality; yet it wasn’t until they bought the land behind them that they were able to expand again so they could fully display all they had to offer, turning their little stand from a “discovery” spot that people stumbled upon to a “destination” that people make the choice to drive to.
On July 20th, 2019, they had the grand opening of their new and current location, giving them the space to fully service their five departments: fresh local produce, convenient quality groceries, local quality meats and butchery, homemade baked goods ranging from treats to sandwiches (plus ice cream!), and locally made Mennonite furniture and work clothing and books. Which, if you ask me, is pretty good for a man with a passion for selling produce; we can only imagine what they’ll be able to do in the next twenty years!!
WRITTEN BY: JILLIAN KENT | RESOURCES: MISTY MEADOWS MARKET, CONN