On a recent morning, Tracy and Jesse Reed looked over their outdoor table displays of potted plants of all types.

Jesse neatened rows of small Boston ferns and shifted some larger hanging plants.

“People are still thawing out,” said Tracy, the owner of Reed’s Produce & Garden Center, commenting on a series of unseasonable overnight chills that had delayed outdoor plantings. “Once the temperature hits 80 degrees, we have people waiting outside for us to open and buying produce all day.”

The family-run store has been just outside downtown Franklin at 342 Fourth Ave. N. since 1990.

While the Reeds no longer cultivate their own Bradley tomatoes at their Thompson's Station farm, every April the garden and produce center opens with an inventory of outdoor decorative flowers, ferns, hanging baskets and other plantings. In the store, shoppers can find regionally produced traditional Southern foods, including black molasses; sorghum; barbecue and hot sauces; relishes; and garnishes, such as chopped green tomato “chow-chow.”

Through the summer, the center stocks fresh produce, including sought-after Bradley, Amish Red and Cherokee Purple tomatoes alongside potatoes, squash and cucumbers, with the great majority of it all coming from Amish farmers in Ethridge, Scottsville and other Kentucky towns, Tracy said.

Most days from April until autumn, Tracy might drive as many as 200 miles in Nashville and rural Tennessee or Kentucky to restock plants, produce and specialty foods he sells.

“It can be 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 8 p.m. some days,” Tracy said.

Sons Jesse and Brent Reed, both in their 20s, manage the store from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., while Tracy’s mother, Betty Reed, works a few hours every day at the register.

The business began with Tracy’s father, Russell Richard Reed, a native of the Hollow Tree Gap area of Franklin. Together with Betty, Russell Richard cultivated and sold produce out of their car starting in 1971.

Being just steps from the Harpeth River, Tracy said the store has flooded often, seeing as much as 6 feet of water.

Franklin resident Joanne Arentson said she relies on the store for healthy and well-cared-for plants.

“The plants are always beautiful and very good quality,” Arentson said.

In the fall, the business does a brisk business selling pumpkins, and in December, the business sells handmade wreaths of cedar and pine, Tracy said.

Tracy said he tries to keep his father’s example of character, hard work and kindness both in business and life.

“Enjoy what you do, and work real hard at it, and treat people right, and enjoy life, and you won’t have to worry about anything,” Tracy said. “That’s what he taught me, and that’s what he lived by.”

Reed’s Produce and Garden Center

342 4th Ave. N., Franklin


Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.- 6 p.m., closed Sun.