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50-year-old Fort Myers fruit stand grows back stronger after Hurricane Ian

Pair A Dice Produce
Posted at 2:47 PM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-28 18:37:54-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Friday, surrounded by the grim reminder of the destruction left by Hurricane Ian, Pair A Dice Produce, a fruit stand in Fort Myers, welcomed back customers.

Pair A Dice Produce has been a part of the Fort Myers community for more than 50 years, and owner John Terlep has owned the stand for eight years.

Terlep said his family has pushed through hurricanes before and knew they could do it again after seeing the destruction Ian caused to his business.

“When I saw it, I thought, we could rebuild,” said Terlep.

It was a thought that would be tested after the storm when employees saw the fruit stand for the first time.

“He (fruit stand manager) called me on the cell phone when we finally did get service and he was just bawling, crying, just… we have nothing left… we have nothing left,” said Terlep.

In three weeks, Terlep said they were able to turn what looked like nothing into something.

“I said we will be back in 30 days, and they are like no way, no way, and we did it in 21,” said Terlep.

On Friday, fruit once again sits on these shelves as customers, as they have done for over 50 years, grabbed baskets and walked the aisles of Pair A Dice Produce.

Terlep told Fox 4 that it was his community that helped them rebuild.

“They all live around here they been driving by, you guys are working hard, you guys are working hard, we don't know what to do but now we have, we know what to do now because we have seen you do it,” said Terlep.

On Friday, Terlep said local produce will be pushed back because of the hurricane's damages.

“We just are very limited on what we can get,” said Terlep.

Thankfully, Terlep said they still found a way to bring in some holiday favorites like pumpkins for Halloween.

“Don't know if we are going to sell them, but at least it makes the front of the store look good. It's October, and actually, we have sold two bins and had to bring in another two bins because people are the same way,” said Terlep.

That shared characteristic, according to Terlep, is strength.

“Everything is coming back, and these people are strong, they are very strong,” said Terlep.

According to their Facebook page, Pair A Dice Produce is open every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.