After successful farmers market run, vendor seeks new owner

By Jodi Schwan

John Raap’s business is having its best year yet.

He and his wife, Georgia, just can’t keep up with it anymore.

Raap, who moved to South Dakota in retirement six years ago, started JR’s Specialty Foods to sell his homegrown, home-canned foods.

John Rapp rings up an order.

“It’s gotten to the point where we used to can starting in May through October, and now we’re in the kitchen canning 12 months out of the year,” he said. “And I’ve still got people calling during the winter months wanting to purchase.”

Georgia’s back issues have made standing and canning tough, so this likely marks their final season selling.

“It’s gotten to be too much,” Raap said. “We’re in our 70s, and it’s time to start smelling roses. It’s been a very good run. Our business has increased as each year has gone by, and this will probably be our best year yet.”

He estimates he sold between 1,000 and 1,500 jars his first year. This year, it could reach 8,000.

“My claim to fame is my salsa,” he said. “But now all of a sudden, we’re making as much pasta marinara as that.”

Other popular items include his preserves, jellies, canned pickles and tomatoes, and barbecue sauce.

“Everything we make, it moves,” Raap said.

He sells twice a week at the market in the Callaway’s parking lot, once a week at the Meadow Barn in Harrisburg, and he used to go to Aberdeen for markets.

Both he and Georgia grew up on farms near Aberdeen.

“I knew what it was like to eat good homegrown food,” he said. “I gardened with my mother as a kid and she taught me how to can, and I always had a garden.”

Work took him to Texas, where he owned a landscape and nursery business for about 25 years, and then Idaho, where he retired from a job selling heavy-duty truck parts.

He’s hoping to find a buyer interested in taking over JR’s Specialty Foods. Everything associated with it will be included in the sale, and he’s offering to work with a new owner and finance the purchase.

“I have had interest,” he said. “I’m willing to work with whoever is serious about it, and if I have to spend a couple years working with them, I’ll gladly do that too. I just don’t want to do it full time anymore. I can’t.”

In the meantime, he’ll continue to sell product until he runs out.

“It’s been a very good run,” he said. “I haven’t had time to even begin to tally how many jars we’ve filled this year.”

For more information, visit jrsspecialtyfoods.com.

After successful farmers market run, vendor seeks new owner

John Raap’s business is having its best year yet. He and his wife, Georgia, just can’t keep up with it anymore.

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