Last Word: Gary Starr
Why did you open Gary's Berries? I grew up picking strawberries with my grandfather. I always thought if someone gave me 25 acres I could make a living out of it. I wanted to share that with my children, giving them experiences most children didn't have. This resulted in a home school project that got out of hand!!
How do you balance your time between Gary's Berries and being a financial advisor? Not many people have the opportunity to merge their business with their hobby. I have the best of both worlds by having a place to invite my clients and spend time with them outside of the office, sharing the farm and its facilities.
Two of your three kids work for you at Edward Jones. Do they work for Gary's Berries as well? Emily and Aaron are both Financial Advisors with Edward Jones. My oldest son, Michael, works with me at Gary's Berries along with Aaron. Emily got married this past spring and now lives in Osawatomie.
What are the rewards and challenges of working with your kids? REWARDS: You always get to see them! Having something to bring you together every year can never be replaced.
CHALLENGES: Facing the fact that they have become adults and actually have good ideas that you didn't come up with yourself.
What is your favorite part of Gary’s Berries? That has to be the little children. One day I gave this little girl, who was about 3 years old, some cotton candy. She was surprised. A little later I saw her again. Cotton candy was on her face, and her parents said it was her first time eating cotton candy. She had told them this was the best day ever. You cannot buy that.
What are the rewards of Gary's Berries? The rewards are easy. The kids. The friends you make. Seeing them return year after year with their growing families. And, most importantly, being able to share with others what we have been blessed with.
Challenges? The unpredictable weather that can greatly impact your weekends, and finding more than 100 people to employ to help us keep everything running smoothly.
Have you ever gotten lost in the corn maze? The first year, when we were cutting the maize, it got away from us (grew too much). Michael, our oldest son, would walk in front of me while I sprayed the paths and say, "over here Dad," but I could not see him.
Are there secrets to the corn maze? Secrets. Yes. That is why they are secret.
What are your hopes for the future of Gary's Berries? To continue to create an environment where the fun and memories never end for generations to come.