Long-time customers of Hawks Market in Elkin said it is old-fashioned service, good produce, a reasonable price and a steady line of products they associate with an old-fashioned market that draws them back time and again.
Customers pointed to farm-raised eggs, old-fashioned candies (horehound, a long list of stick candy, orange slices), a long list of seasonal flowers, honey, and baking goods such as Linney’s Mill stone-ground cornmeal and flours as draws.
During the hot day at Hawks Market, youth Avery and Andrew Russell made their way for their favorite tradition of a market with its mountain roots, for Grape and Orange Crush Soda.
The kid’s mother, Bonnie Russell, said she stocked up weekly on goods to cook at home — also those to make homemade dishes and desserts for church bake sales and suppers.
Russell said every Christmas she looks forward to the seasonal traditions at Hawks and bought large boxes of apples, peppermints and old-fashioned chocolate drops for herself, family and friends.
Hawks Market of Elkin has received the Best Produce Market of the area in The Tribune, numerous times.
In the beginning, original pillars of the Hawks Market in Elkin were Darren Hawks’ grandparents, Howard and Pearly Hawks, who worked for their sons, Clifford and Bill Hawks, who had 12 children.
Darren Hawks of Galax, Virginia, said the family knew by having a produce business they would always have food, even if they did not have money.
“We knew we would always have something to eat,” said Hawks.
He said his family’s old-fashioned Galax,Virginia, roots when it comes to the produce business has never wavered.
He said, “You first have to know the basics of picking out good produce because your customers rely on you to do that in the business.” He also picks out for buyers if they want, he said.
“Customers’ trust is earned,” said Hawks.
He added the Golden Rule applies in all things with produce included.
He said the Hawks’ plan of business has always been to invest in the customer and to keep the produce fresh, and support the local farmers.
Hawks said another key to the market’s success in produce, “I know how to keep it fresh.”
The store carries more than 20 kinds of candy, some seasonal, and the old-fashioned stand-bys of coconut flag, peanut brittle, cream drops, double-dipped peanuts, zagnut, and several varieties of hard candy.
Hawks said they still carry a few Christmas trees every year, mainly because that is what the customers have to come to expect. Hawks added, “It is about investing in the people and being good to the people.”
Darren Hawks’ parents, Clifford Hawks and Bonnie, partnered with Uncle Bill Hawks to open the Elkin market in the early days more than 40 years ago.
Tony and Bonnie Hawks are also partners at the Hawks Market Elkin location. Darren said their son Darrell is a Chapel Hill graduate and helped some in Elkin growing up along with Zoey from Elkin, who also still helps.
Hawks said grandparents Howard and Pearly Hawks worked for the family business in the early days to make it prosper and were original pillars of its foundation. Hawks said the produce business fed 12 of them growing up in Galax and he and his siblings learned the value of produce as young children.
Hawks said they brought an “entrepreneurial” spirit often found in the mountains to Elkin and over the years developed a loyal customer base, he called “like family.” It was in 2002, Darren Hawks became a partner at the Elkin location.
Uncle Bill Hawks, now retired, and long-time client Leon Spicer while sitting in a favorite spot to talk at the market, as they have throughout the many years, discussed the importance of good fresh produce.
Bill Hawks said it has been worth the effort despite the big business crunch on smaller markets.
Spicer said he would not think of going anywhere else.
He said he knows fresh and good produce and that is what he is after. “A good produce buyer knows produce from experience.”
Spicer said that knowledge is a way to build a lasting clientele and that is what they’ve done at Hawks, he said.
Another customer who has been coming many years said, “They are simply the best and are always happy to see you.”
They have a life-long knowledge and are the “go-to” place. “They make good on things and stand by it,” he added.
Carol Shumate of North Wilkesboro said her father wouldn’t buy honey from anywhere else and has made the trip for years for honey and produce.
Darren Hawks left some produce tips:
When picking a ripe watermelon look for a yellow belly and the sound it makes when it is thumped. If the pressure is right, the melon will sound “tight.” He said potential watermelon buyers will know a green or overripe melon if the thud sounds “dead.”
Indications of a good cantaloupe are found by a yellow color and a pleasant smell the melon gives.
Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.