Move gives new lease on life to Morse’s Market

Move gives new lease on life to Morse's Market
Motorists and pedestrians had good reason to stop and stare last Friday, Oct. 5.

It's not every day that you see a barn-like structure jacked up on wheels and rolling westward on Vermillion's Cherry Street.

Morse's Market, which for years has stood at 15 E. Cherry Street, is currently on blocks at one of the Morse family farms, taking a quiet, temporary respite from the business world.

The family's long tradition of providing home-grown flowers and produce to Vermillion residents will continue, said Mitch Morse.

But, he added, it's time to try something different.

"We'll keep doing what we've been doing, probably from the same building," he said, surrounded by a long row of picked pumpkins at his temporary market setting on his farm at 708 S. Dakota Street.

He hasn't decided where to permanently place the building he's just moved out of town.

"We'll see how things go," Mitch said. "We'll be getting it set down (on a new foundation) probably by early next spring so we're ready for the seed business and the flower business."

The market building was constructed in 1967. The 40-year old building "was the oldest surviving business on Cherry Street," said Mitch's daughter, Michele.

Mitch said it's time for his family try new ideas. Forty years ago, Morse's Market met people's needs at its Cherry Street location.

Those needs have been modified over the years.

"You have to change with the times. Our business has gone more to wholesale. When the market was originally built, we were open until 9 o'clock at night," he said.

People's shopping habits have evolved in four decades, Mitch noted. Today, two major retailers in Vermillion that sell groceries remain open 24 hours every day. That doesn't count a few convenience stores in town that also are always open.

Mitch has been gathering ideas during recent business trips in the region. His thoughts include a offering shopping experiences among rows of plants that can hardly be termed garden variety.

"There are a lot of things I want to try this winter," he said. "I travel to other markets when delivering produce, and I have a friend in Iowa who has a vegetable market that's really unique."

Adults and children alike can roam through that Iowa garden, pulling coaster wagons to fill with hand-picked produce.

The Morse's Market building, during its four decades on Cherry Street, offered no opportunities to give customers a hands-on experience.

"The younger generation wants to get out and see how things grow," Mitch said.

Michele has obviously given some thought to this as well. She offered some advice to her dad.

"I think it's neat to try to create an atmosphere that is more welcoming," she said. "They (customers) can see what you're doing, and you and your customers could even compare notes on how to grow different types of plants."

The temporary location of Morse's Market on Dakota Street offers the same high-quality, home-grown products that always could be found when the business was on Cherry Street.

"Right now we have pumpkins, squash, gourds, locally-raised honey, cornstalks and strawbales," Mitch said.

Soon fall will end and winter will arrive. That signals the time for the Morse family to start researching seed catalogs for next year's produce crop.

"We like to create test plots and try something new," Mitch said.

"We found out we couldn't have a certain type of melon because the deer eat them all," Michele said.

Turkeys also like to sample the fruit growing in the Morse's watermelon patch. It's all part of being in a business that's always in good taste.

"Today, people want to know where their fruits and vegetables are grown," Michele said. "They want to know it's fresh and hasn't been sitting on a truck for two days."

To view more photos of the move visit

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