Popular produce spot closing after nearly 40 years

A local family run business that has been providing Charlestonians with fresh fruits and vegetables for close to 40 years will soon be closing.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A local family run business that has been providing Charlestonians with fresh fruits and vegetables for close to 40 years will soon be closing.

The Vegetable Bin first opened its doors in 1975 and over the decades it has truly become an icon in downtown Charleston.

It all began with Mr. Leonard. He is a World War II veteran and owner of the popular produce spot.

"This was a legacy brought from his father John T. This is everything to him," said Tricia Martinson, granddaughter and bookkeeper at The Vegetable Bin. "When you associate the Vegetable Bin you associate Billy Leonard. It started back from when he used to do potatoes for the commissary. This is just his baby."

But his business venture didn't come about because of his love for vegetables.

"Mr. Leonard, granddaddy, I love him. He doesn't eat green vegetables, which is hysterical," said Martinson. "He will eat any kind of fruit but he is not a green vegetable eater, but it was more just a need for the area. The area needed something local, something small, family owned."

And it truly is a family run business.

"I do mainly the books here, my brother and his wife run the store, my mom and her sister are in the background helping out when we need it," said Martinson. "Mr. Leonard is usually down here every day. It's family even down to my daughter running the register right now and you'll see my little one down here running around doing things."

And so it was the family that decided to close the doors next month.

"This is just a family decision to close the business. This has nothing to do with the fire department," said Martinson.

There were some rumors that the building wasn't up to code, but that isn't the case.

"We have been working with one of the fire inspectors with the marshals office, really nice gentleman," said Martinson. "We have been doing what he asked us to do, keeping it up. He has in no way told us that we have to shut down. It's actually all minor things."

So the question is: what is next for the building currently housing an abundance of fruits and vegetables?

"We got many offers to lease the building, many people wanting to purchase it. We aren't sure what direction we are going in but we are going to do something bigger and better and this won't be the end of us at all," said Martinson.

Michael Bailey, Mr. Leonard's grandson, says he will miss the people the most.

"I like people. I like being around people all the time," said Bailey, the manager at The Vegetable Bin. "You get to help people everyday and bring something good to people and I love that. It's my passion."

And for Bailey and his wife, the future is bright and colorful just like the produce they sell. They may be re-opening a new store.

Family members who are currently running the business say they are expected the close the doors within the next week to 10 days.