September 24, 2011

Soup to Nuts: For Maine grocer,
a bright future is in store

That's the early buzz on a 'kinda cool' new country market in Waterboro, where customers stumble across never-heard-of items that become pantry must-haves.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Cornerstone Country Market owners Jeff Balmer, left, Randy Bruckhart and Jon Sollenberger.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Cornerstone Country Market manager Jon Sollenberger restocks shelves with the help of Robert Duncan, who pitches in at the store through Massabesic High School’s Work Experience Program.

Additional Photos Below

CORNERSTONE COUNTRY MARKET

WHERE: 1045 Main St., Waterboro; 247-7668

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

OUT OF THE ORDINARY

HERE ARE a few of the more unusual or harder-to-find products carried by Cornerstone Country Market:

• Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

• Gummy chicken feet

• Cous cous with chives and saffron

• Mini animal crackers

• Cheddar whales

• Cinnamon pecan sticky bun oatmeal (not instant)

• Pappy's Sassafras Tea

• Donut mix

• EZ Squeeze pie fillings in black raspberry, red raspberry, apple, lemon, cherry and blueberry

• Spelt flour

• Brown rice flour

• Haitian rice and beans

• Dark chocolate malt balls

• Rainbow coconut slices

• Blueberry yogurt pretzels (also strawberry and raspberry)

• Gustaf's Licorice Allsorts

• Iced animal cookies

• Green bean chips

• King syrup

• Coconut oil

• Mrs. Wages products

AMISH- AND MENNONITE-STYLE PRODUCTS

• Schlabach Amish Bakery granolas

• Unique Sprouted 100% Whole Grain Split Pretzels

• Mrs. Miller's (spelt pasta, jams, jellies, noodles and peanut butter spread)

• Jake and Amos (sauerkraut, red beet eggs, pickled dilled brussel sprouts)

• Martin's potato breads

• Kauffman's (peach, pumpkin and apple butters)

• Dutch Country soft pretzel mix

• Auntie Anne's at-home pretzel baking kit

• Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie mix

• Other products from companies such as Dutch Country, Dutch Valley, Golden Barrel, Pennsylvania Dutch and Yoder's

• There are Amish cookbooks for sale, and the entire deli department comes from John F. Martin out of Lancaster County, Penn.

Balmer owns the store with his brother-in-law, Randy Bruckhart. Jon Sollenberger is the manager. The families chose to open the store as a way to make a living while they're establishing their church.

"These stores are fairly common, but it's a new concept here in Maine," Sollenberger said. "And with moving into a new area with a bad economy, why move in and try to take other peoples' jobs? Maybe we could do something like this and create a few jobs."

REPACKAGED FOR SAVINGS

The market buys a lot of its products in bulk, repackages them in smaller containers, and then passes on the savings to the customer.

In a display of fall candy, for example, the pumpkin pie and caramel apple fudge has been broken down from 6-pound packages to half-pound servings.

In the baking aisle, you'll find rye flour, pumpernickel flour, rye meal, King Arthur Special (a high-protein flour good for pizzas) and King Arthur Lancelot, a high-gluten flour good for making bagels. Items such as rye and pumpernickel flours can occasionally be found in Portland, Jubinsky said, "but it's hit or miss."

"You can go up there and buy two pounds or five pounds of these kinds of flours and experiment with your baking," he said.

The cookie mixes look like the homemade mixes you give as holiday gifts, only instead of just chocolate chip and sugar cookies, they have things like coconut macaroon mix.

The variety of spices sold at the market is impressive, considering the size of the place, as is the candy aisle. "We've got some people coming in strictly for the candy," Sollenberger said.

The market carries mostly local produce – except for some Pennsylvania peaches, which have proven to be popular – and raw milk from BrookRidge Dairy in Lyman. It has small sections of organic and gluten-free products, and it sells freshly made breads from Raven Hill Orchard in Waterboro.

I scratched my head at a row full of dip mixes that included the unusual flavors of strawberry and black raspberry. I assumed these powdered mixes were meant to be turned into salad dressings, but I've never seen this kind of thing in large grocery stores.

Sollenberger said a Boston resident who summers in Waterboro and likes to enter barbecue contests combined the black raspberry mix with brown sugar and other ingredients to create a glaze for his ribs. Three weeks later, he came back into the market. "He said he won first prize, and he was tickled pink," Sollenberger said.

As I browsed the aisles at Cornerstone, I overheard Anne McBride of Waterboro tell Balmer as she checked out: "I like your store. I'm going to tell all my friends."

McBride lives just around the corner, but this was her first time in the market. On this visit she only purchased some half and half, but spent time wandering around the store and planned to return another day to do more shopping.

"I like the jams from Pennsylvania," she said. "I hope they are successful. It's a store I will shop at."

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: mgoad@maine.rr.com

 

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Additional Photos

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The store buys much of its candy and nuts in bulk and repackages them in smaller containers, passing savings along to customers.

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Pride of Szeged rubs.

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Amish- and Mennonite-style products include Jake & Amos preserves.

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A wide array of baking ingredients.

  


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