Bonita Springs — Jennifer Palma says that her business, Edible Arrangements, was the last gift that her late husband gave her. Palma was in the darkest moment of her life. Her husband had passed away. She was left to raise her teenage children alone. Medical bills were piling up. Living in Florida she was far away from all of her New Jersey family members.
“At the funeral someone had sent us Edible Arrangements instead of flowers,” Palma said. “You don’t feel like eating, but that just hit the spot. We all ate it and everyone enjoyed it.”
A close friend said to her, “Jimbo (her late husband) always wanted to start a business when you moved to Florida and this would be perfect.”
Palma returned to life in Florida and to her bank management job. At that time the company was going through a merger so there were a lot of headaches at work. Her children were having trouble coping with their father’s death and were acting up in school. Medical bills kept rolling in. One day a bank customer was killed trying to turn into the parking lot because of dangerous road construction. The list of frustrations and stress kept growing for Palma.
“I thought, ‘why am I stressing out, why am I doing this?’” Palma said. “Nothing was working.”
It was around that time that she found the tag from the Edible Arrangement that she had received at the funeral. Her close friend had tucked it into her purse and she had shoved it into a drawer when she returned home.
In 2006 she quit her job and in 2007 she opened her first Edible Arrangements location in Fort Myers. Five years later she owns the Bonita Springs, North Fort Myers and Fort Myers stores.
“It’s a labor of love,” she says. “If this could bring a smile to my face in my darkest moment, it can do the same for others.”
Fresh fruit is delivered to the store by select vendors. Small quantities are cut each day. When a customer places an order, their arrangement is created and is soon ready for pickup or delivery. The arrangements are supposed to be kept refrigerated and enjoyed within a couple of days. There are no preservatives, not even lemon juice, applied to the fruit.
“With the exception of dipping it into chocolate, nothing is ever put on the fruit,” Palma said. “It’s pretty creative and wakes up your senses.”
When Palma began the business she said most of the arrangements were fruit, but now most of the arrangements include fruit dipped in chocolate.
There are also special boxed items such as a dozen strawberries dipped in chocolate or the truffles (apples or pears dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, coconut or a similar topping). Some of the more popular fruits are the oranges, strawberries and pineapple dipped in dark chocolate. They are so fresh that the juice sprays out of the fruit at the first bite.
The stores take orders 7 days a week through online orders, on the phone or at the counter in the store. Palma says they are not only popular for occasions but also for dinner parties, as a gift for those moving, for wedding receptions, buffet tables and for school fundraisers. There are many different kinds of containers for arrangements and gift boxes for dipped fruits.
Category: Bonita Business Beat