OGDEN — After four decades supplying Northern Utahns with fresh and reasonably priced fruits and vegetables, Carlo’s Produce will close its doors by the end of the month.
Third-generation owner of the local business, Carlo Sacco III, said the decision to shutter the store didn’t come easy, but after considering a number of factors, he decided the timing was right. Sacco said he had an offer on the property for the right price and that, compounded by an increasingly difficult time finding employees and a desire to be free of the day-to-day grind of owning a business, solidified a feeling he’d been having for a while.
“We’ve been here for 35 years,” Sacco said. “And since my dad retired, I’ve been working seven days a week. It’s almost impossible to leave town and there are some other things I wanted to do.”
The lifelong Ogden resident said he’s done tile work part time for a few years and may look to expand that venture. He also wants to travel more and regularly visit his parents, who now live in Arizona.
Sacco, 50, whose father and grandfather were also named Carlo Sacco, says he was born into the produce business and proudly carried the torch his grandfather lit long ago.
“My dad and I opened (the current Ogden location at 3044 Washington Blvd.) together,” he said. “I was 16, but we’ve really been doing this for 90 years. My grandfather started selling fruit door-to-door when he was 8 years old.”
Sacco’s father had other produce spots before opening on Washington — a place in Roy, another on 24th Street and Monroe Boulevard and one near the Five Points area. Sacco’s uncle, Dom Sacco, still runs Sacco’s Produce at 6050 S. 1900 West in Roy. That store will remain open.
Though the exact date is fuzzy, Sacco said the current Ogden location opened in 1985. During the summer months, the business bought much of its produce from local farmers, something Sacco takes pride in.
“Everywhere from Layton to Brigham City,” Sacco said. “We even went as far north as Idaho, for our potatoes. We carried local salad dressings, local pickles, coffee. When we could buy local, we did.”
During the winter though, Sacco mostly got his goods from distributors in Salt Lake City. He said an uptick in that method of buying loomed on the horizon, as farmland continues to be sold and gobbled up along the Wasatch Front for housing and commercial endeavors.
“Over the years, as a lot of these farmers passed away, the kids would sell the land,” Sacco said. “And then they’d start growing houses, not fruit.”
The business also did wholesale, with many Northern Utah restaurants becoming regular customers. Sacco said he’s also proud of what that circle of local buying activity did for the region’s economy.
Aside from fruits and vegetables, the store always carried basic items like eggs, bacon, cheese and milk — providing something resembling a grocery store that was in walkable distance for many residents of east-central Ogden.
With the the store closing in just a few days, Sacco reflected on years gone by. He’d had employees and customers that stuck with him nearly the entire time he was open. He said once word of the closing started to circulate, he began sharing hugs and tears with many of those people. Sacco said he’ll cherish many memories, like working with his father and finding children’s shoes behind large pumpkins every year after fall cleanup. But more than anything, he’ll miss the relationships he formed.
“For the past 35 years, I’ve been waking up and going to work on Washington Boulevard,” he said. “It’s just what I’ve done all my life. I’m going to miss it.”