After recently celebrating 119 years of business in Holland, the Fabiano family passed down ownership of the Holland Peanut Store to its fifth generation.
Co-owner Celeste Fabiano-Porebski retired on June 30, with her daughter, Sarah Porebski, assuming her role. She joined her Aunt Mary Fabiano-Stille and Uncle Thomas Fabiano, who also co-own the business.
Porebski is thrilled about the new role and Holland’s enduring passion for her family’s homemade chocolates, freshly roasted nuts, and famous Fabiano ice cream Nutty Paddle Pops.
The Fabiano family opened its first storefront in 1907.
“I’m honored to be the fifth generation continuing to operate Holland Peanut Store with my Aunt Mary and my Uncle Tom,” she says in a Facebook post on July 14. “We are all so thankful for friends, family, and our entire community for the continued love and support.”
A celebration online
Her transition to co-owner sparked a virtual celebration on the store’s Facebook page, with thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.
Customers shared stories about all their family memories at the Holland Peanut Store, located at 46 E. Eighth St. in downtown Holland. They also expressed excitement about Porebski’s new role.
“So happy for all of you that family continues to carry the business into the future,” Wendy Faber Rebhan wrote in the comments. “Holland Peanut Store is a gem of the Holland community.”
How the business evolved
The first generation of the Fabiano family in Holland was Joseph Fabiano, who emigrated from Southern Italy with his family. He started a wholesale produce wagon in 1902 before moving to a storefront in 1907, according to “A Sweet History of Holland Peanut Store,” a program created by the Holland Museum.
The second generation, A. Patsy Fabiano, took over in 1914 and expanded the business to Fabiano’s Soda Bar. It was eventually passed down to the third generation, two of A. Patsy’s 11 children, in 1952.
Paul Fabiano, another third-generation member of the family, opened a second family business, the Holland Peanut Store, in 1954. The two businesses operated for 24 years until Fabiano’s Soda Bar dissolved in 1978 after Porebski’s great uncles retired from the business.
Then, in 1998, three of Paul’s children — Celeste, Mary, and Thomas — took over and co-owned the Holland Peanut Store together until this year.
No pressure from family
Porebski says she understood and appreciated the strong family legacy, but never felt family pressure to accept the position. In fact, they made sure she understood the sacrifices she would have to make.
Sarah Porebski, the newest co-owner of the Holland Peanut Store, marks the fifth Fabiano family generation to take the helm of the local “gem.”
“They know how much work it is and the hours,” Porebski says of her family members.
Despite those tradeoffs, the timing was right.
“I knew the peanut store would be a great option for me,” she says. “It really ended up falling into place.”
Returning for family
Porebski first started working at the Holland Peanut Store while she was still in middle school, she says. She graduated from Holland High School, then attended Western Michigan University for textile and apparel studies with an emphasis in merchandising.
After receiving her degree, she returned to Holland and opened her own fashion store, Dress Code, in downtown Holland. She ran that for a few years before moving to Savannah, Georgia.
Eventually, the pull of family brought her back to West Michigan with her son about five years ago. She started working at the Holland Peanut Store again and now understands how loyal a following the store has.
“I realized what an opportunity this is,” Porebski says. “It’s really an unbelievable customer base.”
Looking ahead, she hopes to explore more organic products for the store. Porebski also would like to expand the store’s online shopping presence at some point.
However, the Holland Peanut Store’s top strength — its incredible customer service — won’t change anytime soon, she says. That’s how so many customers have become friends over the years.
“We care. We are a big Italian family. We have a lot of passion, compassion,” Porebski says. “... We are more than a candy store.”