Our week began in the country, seemingly the heart of Amish country. We often zip by in our automobiles, at speeds which do not allow for more than the blurred image of that passing glance at the persons behind the reigns of the buggy. It was kind of a thrill to pull up to the first stop of the week for Rodhe’s Super Center 80th Anniversary, only to find ourselves parking our Big Idaho Potato, right next to a stable for Amish shoppers. Rodhe’s exists in Millersburg, Ohio. I know there is a good chance that a few hands went up, wondering what and where Millersburg is but for good reason. Millersburg is a small village of only about three thousand people. While one can be fairly certain that more then three thousand people live in the surrounding area, suffice to say there aren’t the tens of thousands you would expect to find, before finding your way into a grocery store the quality and size of Rodhe’s. This particular location has been the current home for the store, for about twenty years (if I got the actual age wrong, I would like to lay blame upon the fact that it doesn’t look a day over two). Rodhe’s is the type of place you would go to do your shopping, in any large metropolitan area. I have quite a bit of retail experience and can assure you that this is no small town grocer. The only thing small townish about Rodhe’s, was the customer service; top notch indeed.
Our next stop for the week led us eastward into Connecticut. This time we were visiting another type of Grocer, one with a different vibe. Name three things you wouldn’t expect to see at your local grocers and I think a few of the things you would see here, would come to mind. Where might here be, you ask? Well, this stop was in a metropolitan area, not off in the nice quite hills of Ohio, but smack up against the throngs of New York City. Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk Connecticut, right in the midst of what seemed to be Urbania, (if ever there were such a place) was not the sort of place one would expect to see live farm animals. I dare say, “Fret not,” because Stew Leonard’s has them. We weren’t able to interact with the animals, as it was there sleepy time and Stew Leonard’s try’s to keep their animals happy. I know I’m not happy when I can’t get my nap time, so I let the sleeping dog’s lie… erm, I mean farm animals. Needless to say, it’s a fun attraction for all the city kids who probably don’t spend much time on the farm. You might think that the string of oddities ends there, but it doesn’t. Ever go to your local Grocer just because you’re too lazy to cook? Need a better reason? How about going because your local Grocer has a buffet, worthy of a restaurant. Stew Leonard’s has just that. Not only do they have on staff a plethora of cooks and food preparers, but they actually have a Culinary Chef. They even have Culinary classes for kids. That’s right, they’ll teach your kids to cook for you. Sign my kid up!!!
Ok, good food, a petting zoo… what more could they have there? Ever been to a store where your kids are constantly entertained? Stew Leonard’s has that covered with it’s own style of entertaining displays of all sorts. It has an example of a milk bottling line. Various areas where you can actually see the food being prepared. There are walking mascots to give hugs and take pictures. Last but not least, animated characters from singing milk cartons to banjo playing critters that keep your children entertained as you’re watching the show too. …I mean shopping, yah, heh heh…
This week we had to do a lot of traveling and a lot of travelers had to drive along side of a Big Idaho Potato, but I think it was all worth it. Two fine stores, each in their own right, and both filled with wonderful people. This is a part of the tour where you get to see people in their daily lives and that is something I really enjoy. These two environments were really fun to visit and we’re very glad to have been their guest. Thanks to all who helped make this week a success.
Larry A Bathe