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Taylors Country Store offers Grove City residents a more personal shopping experience

Taylors Country Store of Grove City is a small store that caters to those who want a more personal shopping experience than what is offered in larger supermarkets or big box stores.

Taylors Country Store is located east of Grove City off of U.S Highway 12.
Taylors Country Store is located east of Grove City off of U.S Highway 12.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune
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GROVE CITY — Sitting just outside of Grove City to the east is a little store that caters to those who like a more personal touch when shopping for the things they need.

Taylors Country Store offers a variety of locally sourced bulk items that have been repackaged in smaller quantities for customers to purchase. Customers can also purchase larger quantities of things like flour and oatmeal in 50-pound bags.

Steve Taylor built the store from scratch, opening in November 2018. He and his wife previously owned a store in Somerset, Pennsylvania, before selling it and moving back to the region.

Employees Hannah Chupp and Yvonne Vohler stand in the deli area with Steve Taylor, owner of Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Employees Hannah Chupp, from left, and Yvonne Vohler stand in the deli area with Steve Taylor, owner of Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

They lived here in the 1990s before going back to Pennsylvania to be closer to his parents, who have since died, he said.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to start another store out here or not,” he added, noting he worked at a welding shop for a while.

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With encouragement from others, including his wife, they started looking for land. The opportunity to purchase the ideal location arrived when friends from his church, Mennonite Believers Church, were selling the plot of land right off of U.S. Highway 12.

A variety of personal care items can be found at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
A variety of personal care items can be found at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

“It turned out to be ideal for what I was looking for, right on 12 and a corner lot with major access for traffic,” Taylor said. “These kind of stores are common in the Pennsylvania, Ohio area.”

Items for sale at the store include granola, jams, homemade bread, seasonings, herbs and natural herb products, candies, deli meats and cheeses, and a variety of other things that come from small companies and family-operated businesses, such as soaps and home decor.

Bulk candies and other treats are repackaged into smaller quantities for a cost-savings for customers at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Bulk candies and other treats are repackaged into smaller quantities for a cost-savings for customers at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

“A lot of the products are from small businesses that would maybe have a harder time selling in larger stores, but they can sell through small stores like ours,” Taylor added. “People like this kind of format. It generally is cheaper to purchase that way, when you buy in bulk and repackage. Less packaging, virtually no advertising cost involved.”

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A lot of the bulk goods are repackaged in plastic bags, but some of the products, such as seasonings and candies, are now also packaged in plastic containers for customers’ convenience.

“People like small stores like this because it’s easier — you don’t have to walk so far to find what you are looking for,” Taylor commented. “Older folks (who might) get lost in the really big supermarket, they can browse through here and find what they want more easily.”

He noted that he has people living in retirement homes who come by the busload about once per month to pick up their necessities.

It’s also convenient for the people who live in Grove City and Atwater, because neither town has a grocery store. And they have a lot of customers from Litchfield as well, all towns along Highway 12.

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“(Customers) can drive right up to the porch here. They are in, make their order at the deli counter, meat and cheese. Pick up some bread, milk and then they are on their way again," Taylor said. "It goes really fast. It’s like a glorified convenience store, I guess.”

Customers can pick up all the essentials, such as eggs and milk, at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Customers can pick up all the essentials, such as eggs and milk, at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

He has had Minnesota customers from Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Marshall and Redwood Falls, and customers from South Dakota, Iowa and other places farther away. Taylor said the furniture they sell outside at the store can’t be found out west or in Iowa.

“The price is right and they’re happy with the quality. They’ll be back and they’ll tell others about it — that’s how we advertise,” he commented. “We’re small. It’s a family in some ways. Church folk, you know, gives the girls from church a place to work, share our values.”

The meats sold at the deli are from Wick’s Meat Shoppe in Kandiyohi, which is a “good-quality product. People recognize it right away and pick it up real quick,” Taylor said.

Another product that is popular at the store is the Cedar Crest Ice Cream from Wisconsin, of which customers can buy a cone to enjoy. “(It is a) smaller company, but the quality is better than most, in my opinion. The best I’ve ever tasted,” he added.

Emloyee Hannah Chupp, right, assists a customer as other customers visit and enjoy a Cedar Crest Ice Cream cone at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Employee Hannah Chupp, right, assists a customer as other customers visit and enjoy a Cedar Crest Ice Cream cone at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

Opening just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Taylor said it was hard to compare how it affected his business. He was expecting increases in business due to just opening, but suspects the pandemic helped to increase his business, as well.

“I’d say we were busier than we would have been,” he said. “Maybe people were comfortable buying, felt safer buying, in a small store. If they were afraid of the virus, they might pick it up in a larger store. I’m just guessing, I don’t know. I just know we were busier.”

It also helped that customers could find things in Taylors Country Store that they couldn’t find in the larger supermarkets when shortages struck.

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Taylors Country Store did face some shortages of supplies eventually, and is still facing some of that today.

“I’d say we are mostly back to normal, but not quite,” Taylor commented. “I think now it’s more labor shortage. Companies can’t get people they need to make the product that they sell. That’s my best guess on that one. I’m going through that same thing. It’s getting busier, but we are very selective on who we hire. It can take a little bit to get the right person.”

Outdoor furniture is sold at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Outdoor furniture, like these colorful wooden deck chairs, is sold at Taylors Country Store in Grove City.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune

Taylor stated he does not want to become a big store like a supermarket, because people like the feel of a small country store.

“It’s more personal when it’s small. We know what we are selling, we know the product. We can, most of the time, help people find what they are looking for or explain the product, how to use it,” he said.

“ ... So people that value those things come here, that’s part of why we are as busy as we are. We kind of bring that more personal touch, I guess,” he added.

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Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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