PROVO — From Ohio and Pennsylvania to Provo direct — that’s the Apple Creek Amish Market, newly opened two weeks ago with grand opening scheduled for the end of February.
The Apple Creek Amish Market used to be a doors/windows store before Greg Arlint bought and remodeled it. Besides an Allen's Grocery on 300 S, the area has lacked many grocery and shopping options — enhanced by the vacancies in the East Bay shopping area — which might now feel some reprieve with the opening of the store.
“We are identified as an Amish Market, patterned after ones back east in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” said owner Greg Arlint. “We have foods that their culture enjoys. Amish have a mobility challenge — they can’t have cars. They live in groups and communities.”
Why should each family have to travel to the market in their horses and buggies? Instead, they send one family to buy and they then divvy up the foods — therefore come out ahead with good deals, says Arlint.
“A lot of their stores are just a hole in the wall,” he said.
Arlint and his wife, Rachelle, opened a similar store in Willard more than two years ago which they named Apple Creek Bulk Food Co.
“It’s a fun business and enjoyable because people like it,” Arlint said.
Customers may head for the back of the store to the meat and cheese deli counter if they are after German and Lebanon bologna, scrapple, head cheese and a large variety of cheeses. Four long shoulder-high rows of shelves lead to the back.
Jams, jellies, apple butter, blueberry butter, sweet potato butter, pecan pumpkin butter, pickled beet eggs, mustard eggs, smoked pickled eggs, pickled snap peas, different flours and quite a few gluten-free products are stocked on the Amish Market shelves.
“These are high quality things we used to make [in our homes] but don’t anymore,” Arlint said. “But you can buy them in a jar now.”
Arlint and his wife brought the bestsellers to Provo from the Willard store.
“We have lots of candies and chocolate which definitely sell, the chocolate covered pretzels ... we also have Amish roll butter, shoefly pie mix that you can’t find elsewhere, birch beer that’s hard to find.”
A variety of beans, popcorn, fruit snacks, and sodas like root and birch beer and the Kutztown brand sasparilla line other shelves.
“These sodas use real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup,” said Auston Horst, a worker at Apple Creek Amish Market. Horst is a graduate student at University of Utah and loves to give out deli samples to customers. “I like the food and the owner is great. Typically when you work in a place like this you eat your way around.”
Horst recalled a customer who came into the Provo store and said, “I’m so glad you’re here. Now I don’t have to drive all the way to Willard.”
Another customer drove from Las Vegas to Willard when he heard from his son that Apple Creek Bulk Food stocked Lebanon bologna.
“He couldn’t believe we carried it!” Arlint said. Lebanon bologna is like a summer sausage, he says. Head cheese is another favorite of some customers. Arlint describes head cheese as the head of the pig left over after butchering takes place.
“The snout and some meat are left,” he said. “It’s a coagulated mixture, ‘vinegared’ up. It tastes good but the texture is hard to take for some people. The first ingredient on head cheese is pork snout.”
Another specialty, the scrapple, is also leftovers from the pig, mixed with rice flour. The “meat” comes in a loaf which people slice, fry crisp and put syrup on for aficionados to enjoy.
Unlike many grocery stores that go through a distributor and a warehouse, Arlint receives his products directly from his contact -- many from the Troyer brand -- in Ohio or Pennsylvania to his store in Provo.
The Amish in Pennsylvania who make the jams and jarred goods put Arlint’s Apple Creek Amish Market label on the jars.
“These cute little Amish girls are mixing the jams and pickled beets in a big vat — wooden handle for churning — with pickle juice running down the front of their dresses,” Arlint said.
Despite following an "old-school" method and prepared in small batches, the owners still find the products to be economical instead of pricey.
“... The Amish don’t require much income because they live simply,” Arlint said. “You have hard workers who show up on the job and they are very honest people.”
Arlint grew up with the Amish people in St. Ignatius, Mont.
“They are my neighbors and are wonderful people, full of faith, very forgiving,” Arlint said, who is not amish, but a member of the LDS faith. “I’ve gone to church with them. They’ve lived in St. Ignatius for 30 years. They got kind of squeezed out back east. So they looked for cheap land in Montana. That community will stay there forever.”
Arlint still lives in St. Ignatius; he hires good managers at his Amish stores and checks in every couple weeks to do payroll. He and his wife have two children ages 10 and 13. Arlint and his wife Rachelle, who is from Santaquin, met at Utah State University. Arlint is a third generation grocer.
“This store is a lot like my grandpa’s — we price everything by hand,” he said. “Before the 1930s they had the mercantile, not regular grocery stores. We chose this location with a good exposure and a decent price.”
He plans to bring in furniture like rustic rockers and hand-made quilts made by Amish. His Amish friends in St. Ignatius give him contact information for products, builders and seamstresses.
“The one who does the furniture for us went to school with someone in St. Ignatius,” Arlint said. “My Amish neighbors think it’s cool I’m doing kind of the same thing they do.”
The uniqueness and Amish factor draws people to his stores, “but people wouldn’t keep coming back if it wasn’t good quality.”
Shoppers who are East Coast transplants marvel when they see Arlint’s groceries. “They say it feels like home,” he said. “They cry, hug me, say thank you – especially those who like their Lebanon bologna.”
Note: Apple Creek Amish Market will also carry ice cream, milk and eggs for locals. Bread baked at a Springville shop will also be available. They will not have fresh produce
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