Jansma’s succumbs to taxes, competition

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(Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Tim Freeberg has worked at Jansma’s Farm Stand for 10 years. He’s not sure where he’ll go next. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 21, 2018) – Tim Freeberg doesn’t know if he’ll be coming to work tomorrow. The familiar face behind the counter at Jansma’s Farm Stand found out a few months ago that owner Dave Jansma was planning to shut down. He hasn’t been given an official reason (“I’m just the cashier”), but Freeberg believes it was just too hard to compete with larger stores that also sell produce. And when sales are down, it’s especially difficult to pay Cook County taxes.

On Friday, the store was nearly empty, and the remaining produce is selling for half price. Depending on how much is left at the end of the day, Freeberg says Jansma might tell him not to bother to come in on Saturday, the official last day of business.

For a while, Jansma was planning to simply close for the slow month of January and reopen again in February. But he has started another job, so the closing will most likely become permanent, though there is talk of opening for short periods during flower season and other busy times.

Freeberg assists Lisa, an out-of-town customer who happened to be back in Lansing. She did not realize that Jansma’s was closing but was glad she got in one last shopping trip. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

At the time of this posting, Jansma was not available for interview. An update will be posted as more information becomes available.

Jansma’s Farm Stand is located at 3033 Ridge Road in Lansing. The produce stand has been known as Jansma’s for about 30 years; prior to that it was Van Til’s, originally Riemer Van Til & Sons.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Really, the writer was of this story came to the conclusion that taxes were the problem here? That is hysterical! And then they make that the Headline! Ridiculous!!!

    • Andrew, how is that ridiculous if that’s what happened? What are you claiming happened instead? The reporter was doing her job.

  2. How sad that the family who actually owned this business and started this from the ground up 30 years ago didn’t get to give the final interview for this article. Shame on the writer and the Lansing journal for publishing an article without giving the owners or the family a chance to at least comment on THEIR business and it’s future.

  3. Agreed! Shame on that writer…interviewing an employee instead if the owners! Probably without owners even knowing! Those of us who are fortunate to know the Jansma family …know what wonderful people they are…i wish the Jansma’s well in their future!

  4. After serving the community such a great so long, why not interview the owner in a proper way. They wonder why we call it ‘fake news’. Small business needs our support. Hope the Jansma and Peter’s family do well in their next endeavor. Thanks for your wonderful store!

  5. Mr. Jongsma,

    Do you also feel, as many of the commenters do, that you might have had a personal slant when writing this article? While your title refers to taxes, and the negative effect it had on a local family business, why does your article start out by making an employee look like a victim? As evidence of that, quoting you, ‘He hasn’t been given an official reason (“I’m just the cashier”)’ from Mr. Freeberg. This obviously sets the tone for the rest of the article against the poor family who’s having to let go of a family business they built over the last three decades. I can understand Mr. Freeberg being upset about not having a job after the holidays. I hope he does, because that’s a rough thing for anyone. But the only thing he is a victim of is a free market economy filled with giants who are making it impossible for the local family business to survive, at the real cost of quality products and positive customer service. If he’s known about this coming for the last several months he’s had plenty of time to be prepared so that there’s no difficulty in his transition. But I’m sure he appreciates you using your own personal bias to validate the fact that he simply has to go get a new job.
    So what really happened to you when it comes to Jansmas? Did you apply there for a first job and they just didn’t think you were qualified? Could you have used a similar tone to this article during that interview process which made them realize you might not be a great fit there? Did they not carry the specific type of Orange you enjoy, the really bitter kind?
    Of course, all of my assumptions above are simply that assumptions. I haven’t personally interviewed you. Interviewed you to find out why you would have a negative bent towards a family-owned business with a great reputation. I figured that was okay considering most of your article was based on assumptions seeing as you didn’t actually talk to the owner to find out what the truth was. Instead, you use sloppy reporting by simply interviewing an employee that might have been a little disgruntled due to his own procrastination. Chances are even greater that Mr. Jansma simply considered 30 years of effort into it was a job well done. Or that he decided that part of his life has run its course and it’s time for something new. Or maybe he just wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labor and finally reaped what he sowed.
    My aggressive response to your article is in the hopes that you are a young writer and this will be an opportunity for you to experience some personal growth. Hopefully, you’ve seen how much negative media is out there and what kind of a position it has put the world in. I mean who is the real enemy here? A family owned business or an inept state government driving small business out of business with ridiculous taxes?
    There was an incredible opportunity here to make a heartwarming “puff piece” that could have actually brightened someones day when reading it. Instead, you chose to be just like everybody else, part of the problem.
    I’ll leave you with some classic wisdom from Grandma, “you catch way more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

  6. Shopped there since my girls were little. Now there in there 50’s. All the small places are being drove out. Life will never be like it was years ago. Nothing will. The good guys finish last ALWAYS !!!

  7. Thank you, all, for taking the time to express your feelings about the choices I made in writing and posting this article. I do appreciate hearing from readers, and I do learn from each interaction.

    I hope those of you who love the Jansma and Peters families will accept my assurances that I did not intend to portray them as “the bad guys.” And I don’t think Tim Freeberg intended that either. Yes, he’s sad to be losing his job, but he did not have anything bad to say about his employers. I was surprised to learn that some people concluded I was somehow blaming the Jansmas. That was not my intent at all.

    It was yesterday (Friday) that I learned Jansma’s would be closing. By that time, speculation was already spreading on Facebook, so I headed over to the farm stand to see if I could get some information directly from the source. Neither Dave Jansma nor Dean Peters was there, so I spent some time talking to Tim and a couple of the customers who were shopping while I was there. Tim let me know that Dave might be at the store the next morning, so I planned to call then. In the meantime, I made the choice to publish the information I had. You might disagree with that choice, but I felt that people who had supported the business for so many years would appreciate knowing it would be closing.

    This morning I did call and speak with Dave, and I stopped by the store again as well. A short while ago I published a second story: https://thelansingjournal.com/2018/12/22/jansmas-farm-stand-thanks-lansing-for-nearly-30-good-years/

    My goal as a journalist is always to be accurate and balanced. And when I make a mistake, I generally have the courage to own it and correct it. In this case, I do think it was the right decision to publish yesterday’s story, though I would have preferred to speak to Dave first. I think it gave people an opportunity to go to the store yesterday and today—even this morning I heard people expressing their farewells to Dave. They wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I hadn’t published yesterday’s story.

    I join with hundreds of other Lansing residents in wishing the Jansma and Peters families much success in the next chapter of their lives. I will miss having a farm stand in Lansing, but I also recognize that seasons change and, as Dave says in today’s article, “It’s time to move on.”

  8. My grandfather, Riemer Van Til, started ‘The Stand’ during depression times to eek out some income from his farm which was just two blocks to the south. Ridge Road was a major rout from the East to Chacigo so he stared by pedaling tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and peppers out of the back of a wagon. I do not know the exact date it started but it was around 1923. The building came a few years later. The first I remember it was in the early to mid fifties and it looks surprisingly the same as two months ago when I came through Lansing. I worked there in the late fifties and early sixties for Arnie Van Til who carried on from my grandfather. Jansma’s and Van Til’s ran trucks from the Benton Harbor market during the major fruit season. Elmer Van Til had a truck farm a few miles to the south and provided produce .

    • Another disappearance of proof of my memory. I remember another farm stand from when I was a kid that was much further east on Ridge Road, almost to Indianapolis Blvd. Does anyone else?

  9. Taxes is a actually waht happened. If you have never owned a business you wouldn’t have a clue. We owned and operated a business in Cook County from 1974 to 2012. At that point taxes had reached a climax to equal almost 3 employees yearly payroll. Not based on a sales, Nope if you have a down time. It doesnt matter we want the 120 Grand no matter what. We were a small of 8 people too.

  10. How could twhhe off the charts taxes charged to Lansing businesses at last time I know of was a whopping 16 percent which is I believe higher than even Calumet City . What’s left at Landings anymore . Hard enough already having to compete with big business able to buy bulk and lower costs , but slap that taxes on top of it in a neighborhood where home values have plummeted and many people upside down on mortgages just making ends meet , and the convenience of shopping local becomes no longer an option , and no longer feasible when every corner must be cut . Property taxes are about the highest in Cook county yet school music cut to the bone , and language no longer taught at Memorial due to cuts years ago . What happened to lottery money to help fund schools ? Hard to believe the Jansmas’ held out this long before throwing in the towel . They fought hard but unfortunately that doesn’t count , and neither does customer service , and that personal touch so lacking these days and nobody knows anyone for long before they are gone and turnover at all time high at places like Target in particular . Sad that soon nobody will know anyone outside of a keyboard of letters and numbers and pre recorded messages . The world will be a much lonlier place indeed .

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