Where do you go to get farm fresh produce, a custom handmade flowerpot, eclectic floral art and homemade baked goods? Many locals would suggest Rays Produce and Flowers, a family-owned and operated business that is part of The Brush Factory on Kings in Lewes. “Rays is a farmstand of sorts, but really it’s a fresh seasonal market,” Emily Keyser-Gofus explains. She and her husband Jeff are the owners who named the business after the sun. “It’s for rays of sunshine, which makes everything grow.”
Emily is progressive and free-spirited. “We like to have fun and we want to sell happiness. We treat all our customers like family.” Emily runs the front of the store with her sister Hallie who helps customers pick the perfect flower arrangements. Her husband and son Carter work behind the scenes organizing transport and stock. “It’s important to me to remember my customers’ names and make their experience a memory,” Emily says. This is evident in how she instinctively offers cookies to children shopping with their parents and greets many of her customers by name and with a hug.
Hailing originally from Columbia, Pennsylvania, Emily and her family moved to southern Delaware a decade ago and brought the country charm of central Pennsylvania with them. She and Jeff wanted to move closer to the coast and Lewes seemed like the perfect fit.
“I don’t like to say ‘no’ to customers. We aim to please, because we’re so grateful for their business.”
Early in her career, Emily worked at a corporate flower shop that had more than 26 locations, which taught her the workings of wholesale and design concepts. From there she worked in coffee shops and flower shops and even tried her hand at farming for nine months when she and her husband rented farm space in Pennsylvania. “After that, we knew farming wasn’t for us; we wanted to be on the other side of it,” she says.
They originally had a small store in Pennsylvania called Flowers, Herbs & Art where Jeff would make routine trips to Philadelphia to buy flowers. On one trip, he came back to the storefront with lemons. Emily displayed the lemons in flower arrangements for decoration and put the rest out front of the store in a basket to sell. “A man came by to grab a lemon for preparing fish, and that lemon brought him in to buy flowers,” she recalls. It was that single lemon that inspired Emily and Jeff to make a business out of flowers, plants and produce.
Emily has engaged in this juxtaposition since she was 7 years old when she set up a Kool-Aid and lemonade stand in front of her childhood home, located across from a local sewing factory. Her mom gave her a card table and a beautiful linen tablecloth that she used to set up her shop to sell refreshments to workers at the end of their shift. After generating a buzz in the neighborhood, she started selling her own handmade yarn dolls and bookmarks.
Today, Rays Produce and Flowers boasts goods from 20 farmers and a Grower’s Group that includes more than 60 small farms. The business can be described as a colorful rich farm stand surrounded by an exotic terrarium of lush plants and goodies. It sells a variety of locally sourced produce and treats, including homemade cakes, dog biscuits and spicy honey. Emily even makes her own cement flowerpots and personalized garden stones to add charm and decoration to outdoor spaces.
The store faced a true crossroads during the spring of 2020 when COVID struck. “There were talks about things shutting down, but we had to keep going,” she says. They purchased their usual haul of perishable produce and goods for sale only to learn that all nongrocery and nonessential businesses were barred from opening. “We sat here, in the stock room, full of perishable food, thinking, what do we do now? We had to think fast,” she says. That is when the delivery service began. Servicing a 10-mile radius of The Brush Factory, they offered free delivery to anyone placing a minimum order of $20. Emily recounts customers leaving signs on their lawn or in their windows thanking her and her family for delivering their items to them. “We serve such an incredible community.” Emily has one customer who shops Rays Produce and Flowers because it was her mom’s favorite store. “She came in right after her mother passed away and said our store reminds her of her mom.”
Rays Produce and Flowers is a fun place to shop. They spin a carnival wheel that offers discounts and gifts. “We gave a piece of cake to all customers when we were celebrating my daughter Gwen’s birthday,” Emily says. Rays Produce and Flowers is a place where family works together, works hard and loves what they do. “I don’t like to say ‘no’ to customers. We aim to please, because we’re so grateful for their business.”
EMILY’S LOCAL FAVS
- Beach Broadkill Beach at Virginia Ave.
- Restaurant Winter: Miyagi, Summer: Tequila Real.
- Shop Brush Factory on Kings. You can find anything!
- Lunch spot Daily Market sandwiches on Savannah Road.
- Coffee Station on Kings.
- Trail Redden State Forest.
- Happy hour My stoop at home.
- Beach read Southern Living magazine.
Rays Produce and Flowers is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Rays Produce and Flowers delivery service is still available. Text orders directly to Emily at (484) 753-4435.