After being closed for seven months, Buddy’s Fruit Stand has opened for business again.
Before the fruit stand took a brief closure earlier this year, owner Wanda Crawford was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
This diagnosis required her to close the stand while she received treatment at Shands Hospital and dealt with the symptoms of her illness.
Her ordeal included months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Now, Crawford is in remission.
“I just couldn’t sit around the house anymore,” said Crawford. “I had to get out and do something.”
The stand was officially reopened in the first week of October, and was festively decorated with flowers, pumpkins, and scarecrows for the fall season.
Originally located across the street from its current location in Sneads, Buddy’s began with Crawford’s father, Buddy Kirkland, selling fresh fruits and vegetables from the back of his Cadillac, to which he’d added a pickup bed.
Crawford herself was six years old when Kirkland started the business with his wife Doris, and was involved from the start, building a foundation in customer service with practical experience.
The business grew into a permanent brick and mortar establishment, and currently offers much more than produce.
Fresh seafood, jams, jellies, honey, and syrups are also available, along with flowers and more.
Crawford inherited the stand when her father died in 2019, and chose to continue his legacy by keeping the stand in business.
When her illness was diagnosed, and it became clear that she would need to receive expensive treatment at Shands Hospital with a significant amount of travel involved, her family spread the word, and held a fish fry fundraiser at the stand on March 18, 2022 to raise funds for travel, hotels, and food expenses.
The community turned out in force for the event, and the store was packed with a wrap-around line of people showing their support by purchasing a plate.
Though she was forced to close the stand to deal with her illness and recovery, now that Crawford is in remission, she says that she intends to keep Buddy’s Fruit Stand open as long as she possibly can.
Crawford has changed the operating hours to give her extra time for health reasons.
Buddy’s Fruit Stand is currently open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service