anyone just walk into the la wholesale produce market?
- hungry for fruits Jun 18, 2005 04:07 AM
has anyone ever just walked into the la wholesale produce market? i would be interested in buying some fruit... i know you have to buy lots but is it open to anyone who has money?
i drove around it one night at 3 am. where do people park? anyway, would like to know if anyone ever just walked in and got 50 pounds of peaches (or whatever fruit or vegetable) one night for a good price.
I'd say the answer is a definite maybe and will vary between vendors and circumstances. My dad was in the produce business and I used to help out with the bookkeeping, and there were occasional cash sales of single crates or cartons of produce to irregular customers. When stuff's in short supply you have to prioritize your customers and people off the street certainly won't be able to buy anything. However, when there's plenty of merchandise, I think some of the produce houses would be willing deal with you. These retail transactions weren't too common though, probably due to the hours of operation in the produce market. I remember when one TV drama shows came to the produce market on San Pedro St. to shoot a scene (I think it was the "FBI" starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and it showed a stream of retail customers coming in during the daytime to purchase single boxes of produce. We all had a good laugh because that's not how the business operated.
I split the LA Produce Market into two sections the new part which is closest to Olympic and the old part which borders on Central.
The vendors in the new part are larger and less likely to sale to individuals but I have purchased a box from some of them. Each has a specialty so figure that out.
The old market on Central consists of Mexican fruit wholesalers. All of these guys sale to individuals. The funny thing is that all of the vendors there buy from a couple of the other vendors in the same market. I have no clue how they stay in business. I bought a huge box of apples for $10 once.
I don't know where to park because I have a permit.
If you are interested in Asian produce head down to 9th and San Julian. Park on San Julian on the side with no meters. The west side of the market (San Julian Side) has more fruit and the east side (San Pedro) has more vegetable.
If you need some specific information about vendors let me know, I work down there often.
Most, if not all of the produce vendors will sell single cases to individuals. Each place usually has specializes in certain produce. For the best strawberries, definitely go to Produce International. The biggest vendor is Valley Fruit & Veg. They have almost everything, but it is sometimes hard to find someone to get your case out the back. I usually go there around 7 am so I am not sure what it is like in the wee hours of the morning. There are a few parking stalls inside the fence along the Central Ave side, but it may require you to have a permit. You can ask one of the security guards which are usually right near any of the entrances. There is parking along Central and Olympic before 7 am, but if you are planning to go when it is dark, it is not the best area.
If any of you have more questions which should be discussed off the board, feel free to email me and put Chowhound in the subject so I do not delete it.
I hope that helps.
I think there's an entrance off of olympic - you can get a parking pass from the guard at the gate or if you know which vendor you'd like to go to, each loading dock has parking spaces in front (you'll be competing with big trucks). Go before 8 am, take cash, and don't try to haggle - the prices are as low as they get. Sometimes you can buy less than a case, but you'll pay more. Davalan Sales is a good vendor for specialty/high quality restaurant produce. Don't be intimidated by the market - most vendors have their goods out on the dock for you to look at and there's usually a main desk of salesmen where you have to go and tell them your order. They aren't super friendly because they're so busy, but don't take it personally! Good Luck!
thank you all for your kind replies. there are a lot of VERY USEFUL tips (where to park, suggestion not to haggle, where to shop for certain items, etc). i feel more confident about driving up there now.
thanks again to: tku, DK, BobMack and Chandavkl!
i tried searching for the answers, but had no luck. you guys came through for me! i really really appreciate it!
re: hungry from some fruit
you can also try times produce out near little tokyo. a buddy of mine that manages a restaurant in west la introduced me to that place.
I think its on 1st and mission (not sure the exact street, but you can always look it up).
also, they give good prices to cash customers.
i have being in the produce market for the last 18 years if you own a restaurant, a produce market you can go into the wholesale produce market get an credit application so you don't have to expose your self in danger and place orders via e-mail but some times the best thing to do is check the quality and freshness of product now this is wholesale activity so if you go for retail and you want to get the product your self go to the old market on Central And 7th street where you can get fresh product, a big variety of fruits and vegetables and if you don't want to get up early then you can call to company's that they will deliver all of you produce needs like Select Produce Co. , West Central Produce, Ingardia Produce,Select Fresh Produce etc. etc but believed is so much fun doing it your self specially if you don't like to wasted your money in all that fancy deliveries besides you meet a lot of people from around the world wish is really awesome, i hope all this tips are helpfully to you.