Hello! We are Duane and Jean Erb, owner’s of The Orange Barn.
We’re so glad you dropped by! Here’s a little bit about us and The Orange Barn!
How We Started
The Orange Barn was begun by Lloyd and Lydia Smart and operated out of their barn in Gadshill. Lydia was originally from the US! Her brother would bring up fresh oranges and grapefruit from Florida for the Smarts to sell during the winter months.
As a young man, Duane would help them unload the shipments of citrus fruit and told them, “If you ever decide you don't want to do this anymore, I'll do it!” One day, they took him up on it
So, in 1980, we moved the business to Millbank where we lived with our two young children. Duane was busy working in construction at the time and we ran The Orange Barn as a side business.
Over the years, the business steadily grew and we built a loyal clientele who enjoyed quality treeripened citrus, Georgia pecans, and a variety of other fresh nuts as much as we did!
The Orange Barn provided after-school work for our 4 children during high school, and later, their spouses helped out as the family grew. Now, our grandchildren are beginning to work at The Orange Barn!
Many extended family members have worked or currently work for us. For many years, well into their 80’s, Duane’s grandfather,Val, and Duane’s father, Arlan worked each weekend sale, first by lifting cases to fill orders and then, as they aged, by visiting with the customers as they moved along through the order line! Jean's father, Mike was also a familiar face, often helping Jean sell the remaining fruit following the weekend sales.
Along with family, we also employ local high school students, providing many of them with a firsttime job and the chance to gain workplace skills to add to their resume.
We have been blessed with staff who are hardworking, polite, and respectful and who offer a ready smile to each customer they serve.
Our Business Past: 1980 – 2019
For 40 years, we opened the doors of The Orange Barn one weekend a month from December through March. On the Friday night, loyal customers would line up two hours ahead of time in the cold, and chat with each other and Jean until 7 pm arrived! For many people, it became a tradition, and they looked forward to visiting with friends they made while waiting in line.
Before placing their order, customers were encouraged to sample the assorted fruit and nuts before purchasing it. Once their order was paid, they moved into the back of The Orange Barn where their order was picked and checked before it was carried out to their vehicle.
Over the years, many customers became friends with us. Our hospitality was balanced out by the ability of our staff to serve the customers quickly and efficiently, often selling 1000 case in just a few hours.
Our Business: 2020-2021 During Covid
With the arrival of Covid and the ensuing restrictions, changes needed to be made to meet Covid safety requirements and we moved to a drive-thru format. What we didn’t anticipate was the sudden growth in customers that we experienced during this time!
This new format along with the unexpected growth in customers was not without challenges. While it allowed for customers to still be able to purchase our citrus fruit, it made for long wait times and many traffic concerns.
We made it through the season thanks to the patience and understanding of our customers. However, we knew that something needed to change and our business (and town) could no longer handle the amount of parking and traffic that was required to safely accommodate our customers during our sale weekends.
Our Business: Present
We have now moved to a business model that is fully online with scheduled pick-up time slots. Now, all ordering and payment will be completed online through this website. When placing your online order, you choose a convenient time to come and pick-up your citrus fruit order.
So, no more long lineups or long wait lines or traffic hazards!
While we are grieving, along with our long-time faithful customers, the loss of The Orange Barn being a place of community to meet up and chat and laugh with old and new friends, we are excited about what the future holds for The Orange Barn.
Thank you for supporting our family business!