Sitting behind mounds of Asian pears, David Liu alternates between scanning the passing Mission Community Market crowds for interested customers, and scrolling through apps on his phone.
Liu, whose family runs K&J Orchards, has been helping out at farmer’s markets since he was about eight years old, he said. But he’s been helping out more since he graduated from high school last summer.
“I like interacting with people, getting a taste of the social world, because I don’t really go out too often,” Liu said.
Most shifts, Liu is working with his grandfather, who Liu described as a great salesman despite his very limited English.
“He just gives his recommendations, tells people what he likes and they usually just listen to him,” Liu said.
The 18-year-old said his grandfather was a “chill boss,” in most respects but two: punctuality and outreach.
While the Mission Community Market, on 22nd Street between Mission and Bartlett streets, starts at 3 pm, and setup only takes about 30 minutes, Liu’s grandfather insists they arrive by around 12:30.
He also insists that his grandson engage with anybody who looks even remotely interested in their fruits.
“When people look at the fruits from far away, he always wants me to try to call them over, Liu said. “It’s really hard for me, because I get nervous. I’m a pretty shy person.”
Still, he enjoys working with his grandfather, because it’s the only time they get to spend together, even if his grandfather brags about his superior sales numbers.
“He’s always trying to sell more than me,” Liu said.
But his nearly 10 years in the scene have given the younger Liu salesmanship skills of his own.
When curious customers approach, he quickly summarizes the varieties of pears they offer: shin li, shinko, atago. When one person asks which was best for baking, he quickly points out the sweetest kinds.
As a child, Liu would get embarrassed when classmates would see him at the pear stand, but looking back, he said he doesn’t know what he ever had to be embarrassed about.
“This is what I do,” Liu said.
The Mission Community Market takes place on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.