WILKES-BARRE — A company with a long history in the Wyoming Valley is now trying to help raise the profiles of other local businesses.
The Thomas C. Thomas Co. on East Union Street used its empty parking lot to host the first of its “Saturdays in September,” a new initiative to introduce the community to vendors and entrepreneurs.
Although the Thomas C. Thomas Co. stopped selling produce in the area in 1991, it has maintained a notable presence in Wilkes-Barre.
“We’ve continued to be a staple in the community by leasing our offices, warehouses, parking lots and storage units,” said owner Thomas C. Thomas Jr., 73. “We’ve been here since the Great Depression and we will continue to be here.”
Thomas Jr. said that his family’s business owns multiple properties that go unused on the weekends.
“We have the empty space, so we decided to help other small businesses,” he said. “This was an alternative we had to use the space.”
“It’s important for the individual entrepreneur to have a place to show their wares.”
There was a little bit of something for everybody Saturday, according to Mary Harris, leasing manager for the Thomas C. Thomas Co.
“We have fresh produce, food vendors, jewelry, clothing and much more,” Harris said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback considering this is the first event we held.”
Harris said “Saturdays in September” will continue every Saturday through the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It took a lot of work to prepare for this event,” she said. “But it’s been more than enjoyable to see it all come together.”
“The reason we started this vending event is because of our company’s heritage,” Harris added. “The company was started by a single entrepreneur and we wanted to open up to other entrepreneurs.”
Among the local vendors taking advantage was PananaMan, owned by Phil Delzeit, 58. He was there showcasing his food and beverages.
“I started my business from the ground up,” Delzeit said. “I’ve been going strong for five years now.”
Delzeit’s business has an interesting backstory.
“I was in Barnes & Noble one day and I saw an Elvis cookbook,” he recalled. “I flipped to the middle of the book and saw that Elvis loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I figured I could turn that into a business and here we are.”
For those unaware of what a panana is, Delzeit described it as a banana and peanut butter sandwich deep fried in funnel cake batter, sprinkled with powdered sugar on top, and served with a raspberry chocolate sauce.
Delzeit also displayed a new drink concoction. He likened its taste to a candy apple.
“I took apple cider and infused it with cherry to make Candy Apple Cider,” he said.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes