Apr 13, 2022 - Business

An ode to The Orange Shop

a sign for the orange shop

The Orange Shop on U.S. 301 in Citra. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

I drove up U.S. 301 toward Jacksonville the other day for the first time in a few years and pulled over to pay homage to an old Florida throwback, The Orange Shop.

  • I was so glad to see the beating heart of Citra's citrus commerce still pumping.
  • The parking lot was full of cars with out-of-state plates, and tourists browsed the wooden shelves lined with marmalades, citrus candies and coconut dolls.

Why it matters: Before several catastrophic freezes in the '60s, '70s and '80s dented the North Florida citrus industry, there used to be dozens of similar mom-and-pop citrus shops up and down U.S. 301 in Marion County.

  • The Orange Shop, open since 1936, is the last of its kind.

Flashback: The great Florida writer Jeff Klinkenberg in 2011 profiled owner and third-generation orangeman Pete Spyke, who pointed out that there are a lot of people living in Florida who have never enjoyed a glass of fresh-squeezed juice.

Spyke is part of an old Florida tradition. Spanish conquistadors brought citrus to North America five centuries ago β€” not to Miami Beach or Tampa but to the area near present-day St. Augustine. Floridians had been snacking on oranges for about six decades when the Pilgrims enjoyed their first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock.
β€” Excerpt from Klinkenberg's profile

Of note: The Orange Shop offers a large selection of citrus and specialty baskets online, and they ship across the country.

I left with a quart of fresh-squeezed juice, a jar of spicy orange marmalade and a T-shirt to remind everybody that this place is worth the trip.


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