by Paula M. Riley
“It’s really quite simple,” Ron Loux, owner of Poppy’s Seed Bakery, Gourmet Coffee & Tea explained. “We just listened to our customers.”
Loux’s customers at the Chestnut Hill Farmers’ Market told Ron and his wife Bev that they didn’t like having to wait until weekends (when the Farmer Market was open) to buy their breads, coffees and desserts.
After hearing this feedback for months, Ron and Bev decided to take action. Beginning Monday, Feb. 7, Poppy’s Seed will be open six days a week, at 7 a.m. in the Farmers’ Market. In addition to expanded hours, the store’s offering is growing as well.
Poppy’s Seed will expand into the front stall of the market, which most recently hosted a florist. With tables and chairs, as well as a counter bar for serving coffee, it will be selling hot breakfast sandwiches to accompany their offering of croissants, rolls, bagels, cinnamon buns, cookies, cakes and pies.
When it first opened in 2008, Poppy’s Seed Bakery primarily sold bread and baked goods. Listening to their customers’ requests that first year, they expanded their product line and doubled their market space so they could sell organic and gluten free products as well as gelato.
When the owner of the coffee stall just across the aisle decided to leave in August, Ron and Bev didn’t hesitate to grab that space. Within just a few weeks, the former handyman from Souderton (with help from Bev) had completely renovated the stall.
Today, it is a bright open place where coffee is clearly marked and shoppers can enjoy a hot cup of any beans they sell. The selection includes 70 total different varieties of coffees – flavored coffees, organic fair trade varieties, decaf options and coffees from different regions of the world as well as loose teas.
“These days,” Ron explained, “coffee is like wine was 25 years ago. People do their research, they know what they want and they recognize the quality.”
He admits that he was not a coffee expert when he came into the business, but like in every other aspect of his business, he listened to his customers.
“They are the best educators you can have,” he said.
Selling high quality coffee from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Columbia and loose teas from around the world, Ron believes he has something for even the most demanding nose. He explains that coffee connoisseurs, like wine connoisseurs, often judge quality of the product by its smell.
“If you can’t find what you want, don’t worry, I’ll find it and have it for you next time you come in,” Ron promised.
He is excited about the expansion of the business and happy to add another coffee and breakfast option to the area. Having bagels, pastries, hot breakfast sandwiches, a nice seating area and plenty of parking is what Ron hopes will set him apart.
“Now I can offer a convenient option for parents dropping kids off at Jenks, Christ Lutheran Day Care or anyone heading on the train to Center City,” he said.
With a huge parking lot, a stall right at the front door of the market and seating both indoors and out, Ron thinks customers will love not just his selection but the convenience as well.
At this time, no other vendors are planning to remain open in the market six days a week and the other areas of the market will be roped off. Ron credits market owner Ron Pete for his support of this venture.
“He really made it easy for me!” Loux said.
Prior to opening Poppy Seed Bakery, Loux worked at Neidermeyer’s for 10 years on Saturdays and holidays. He learned quickly that the Chestnut Hill Farmers’ Market has an extremely loyal customer base.
“I want to be able to meet the needs of these great customers more than three days a week,“ he said. “I believe if I keep giving them what they want, they will keep coming back.”