After three generations in business, Cox Farms in Wichita will close its doors for good this fall.
Their tractor is parked, and the fields lie empty, for the first time in nearly a century.
“My grandparents, Roy and Daisy Cox, started this in 1926,” said Ron Stein. “They had an outside stand they run for, what? Probably 30 years?”
“Oh, at least,” answered Ron’s wife, Vickie.
But now, the Steins have the “For Sale” sign out, and the bright red barn is the only part of Cox Farms still open.
Fresh produce will only be available here for another month or so, but this fall, no corn maze or hayrack rides for the school kids.
The owners, now in their 70’s, are retiring, but their customers are reluctant to say goodbye.
“Oh yes, some are even crying,” said Vickie.
Rosemary Smith is one of them. She says she has been shopping at Cox Farms for 67 years, ever since her family moved to Wichita in 1951.
“Yeah, I’m 88 so you figure…” said Smith, laughing and shrugging her shoulders.
Over the years, Cox Farms had to rebuild after a tornado, and Ron has beaten cancer three times.
They stayed in business so long, in part, for Ron’s dad, who worked at the farm until the day he died at age 91.
Now that the Steins are ready to relax, their grown children have careers of their own and can’t take over the farm.
“I really don’t want ’em to follow in our footsteps because it’s too much work,” said Ron.
“Seven days a week from 6 in the morning to 6 at night,” added Vickie.
But the Steins say they will miss chatting with customers and meeting new friends, like George Pearson, who stopped by Cox Farms for the first time in August.
“I hate to see ’em close the place really,” said Pearson, after spending more time talking with Ron than shopping for his produce.
A few people have expressed interest in taking over “Cox Farms,” but the Steins have decided that whether there is a buyer or not, the business will close around October.
Until then, Ron and Vickie will make plans to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.