Saltwater Portrait

Love of outdoors led Tom Williams to produce stand

Former Rehoboth bouncer expands business
Tom Williams of Rehoboth Beach enjoys meeting old and new customers at his produce stand. BY RACHEL SWICK MAVITY
July 24, 2012

Rehoboth resident Tom Williams stands in the hot sunlight during one weekend morning, setting out fresh, local fruit and vegetables at his new farmstand.

Williams, a humble man who enjoys a good joke, said the outdoors have always called to him.

“When I was younger I bounced at most of the bars in Rehoboth,” Williams said. “But after years of that, I decided to start doing more outside.”

Williams and Becca Anderson started B&T Lawn Service, and Williams opened his first produce stand on Country Club Road outside Rehoboth.

Later he moved the stand to Bay Vista Road and just this summer, he opened a new location at Jim Windsor’s Flowers, next to Big Fish Grill.

“We have more exposure here, and Jim Windsor has been great to work with,” said Williams.

A wooden structure provides a table to display the produce, and a rough-cut roof provides a bit of shade on sweltering summer days.

“I’ve been selling produce for 14 years, and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Williams said. “My customers are great, and here I am meeting new people all the time.

Born in Texas, Williams has lived in Rehoboth for more than 40 years.

He enjoys living here because of the people, and his family is here as well.

“Here in Rehoboth, you get to see a bit of everything,” said Williams. “It’s never boring.”

In his younger years, Williams was a bouncer for the Rusty Rudder and the Starboard in Dewey Beach, and Obie’s By The Sea, Sir Guy’s and Irish Eyes in Rehoboth. He even worked at Ragtops, where Old Bay is located now at Midway.

“I get along with people, so I would try to help them get along,” Williams said of his bouncing years. “I always told them it was more fun to sit and have a beer than fight.”

Now at 52, Williams lives a quieter life. When he’s not working at the farm stand, he enjoys a quiet meal at Arena’s Café by Big Fish Grill. He also enjoys spending more time with family, including his nephew Dayton Moore of Coastal Towing who also works at the stand with Williams.

Moore and Williams enjoy playful jabs at each other to pass the time. The pair enjoys hunting and fishing when they aren’t selling fresh corn to visitors and residents.

“He’s always on the move,” said Moore of his uncle.

Williams travels to Illinois a couple times each year on a hunting trip. Often one of his nephews accompanies him. With seven nieces and nephews, Williams has a lot that keeps him busy.

Rounding up produce

In the early morning hours, Williams loads up his truck and heads out to the farms. He buys directly from local farmers because he said their produce is the best.

“Local food tastes better, it’s less traveled and it keeps the money local,” Williams said.

He made connections with local farmers several years ago when he was raising horses.

“I just got to know them, and decided if I was going to have this stand, then I would buy from local farms,” Williams said. “I don’t open my stand until the local produce is available.”

In July the stand features watermelons, corn, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries and blueberries. He will get potatoes and pumpkins closer to the fall.

Williams said tomatoes, peaches and corn are customer favorites, but corn is definitely his favorite.

"Just boil it and add a bit of butter, salt and pepper. That’s all you need,” said Williams.

Williams drives to Seaford, Milton and Dover areas to collect his produce during the morning hours. He often uses vegetables and fruit from T.S. Smith & Sons, Fifer’s Orchard, Vincent Farms in Seaford, Willey Farms in Dover and Fresh Connections, a produce market near Milford.

“With this new location we are doing a lot better, and we have been selling out almost every weekend,” Williams said.

He has plans to expand the produce stand if the success continues. This month, he added chicken barbecue, made by local chef Noel Sickler.

“I like it when we open the stand each summer and I get to see old friends and customers from past years,” Williams said. “It’s fun to visit and catch up from year to year. You meet all walks of life here at the stand.”

Williams can be found every weekend through October at the farm stand, just south of Big Fish Grill on Route 1 outside Rehoboth. Stop by, grab a peach and enjoy a story, as only Williams can tell them.