Mom and pop shops have been replaced with big box stores left and right, but as southern Boone County expands and develops, one couple is resurrecting the idea of a small town grocer.
To some, Beaverlick Trading Post is the old bait and tackle shop, or the old check-in station during hunting season. For years, the store has been vacant, until the trading post became little more than a memory to residents of Walton and Union.
Mimi and Joe Borne are changing that. Both entrepreneurs, she runs a healthy meal prep business called Mimi’s Macros and he operates as a private contractor in the IT industry. The two were driving home from church one day when they spotted the old Beaverlick Trading Post. Curious, they stopped and peered inside.
“We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” Joe said. “It was completely ready to go. It just needed stocked, staffed, and a point-of-sale system.”
He said another couple purchased the store back in 2018. The Trentkamps bought the location “with the intention of getting the store up and running.” He said they remodeled the store and it was ready to go, but life got in the way.
“Between daughters getting married, and the pandemic, and then a whole bunch of grandbabies, they never really could find the time to get it up and running,” he said. “So, it just sort of sat there for a while.”
Joe is a native of Boone County. Like others, he remembers the different phases the store has gone through, but more than anything he knew his neighbors “desperately needed a store down there as a community resource.”
After closing on a deal, Borne said they originally planned to open the store in six weeks, but when they heard about a racing event at the nearby Florence Speedway, they pushed to open in two weeks instead.
“I didn’t sleep for two weeks,” he said.
Tired but determined, the store opened in time with three retirees on staff, who Borne said are “an absolute salvation” for them.
The store has received an immediate response from the community. Borne said they strive to be more than a convenience store. With rocking chairs on the front porch and a dedication to know customers by name, the couple is recreating the “small town grocer” with a modern touch.
“We are trying to resurrect the small town general grocery store where you know everybody and they know you by name. We want to offer recommendations and help, not just point to where things are,” Borne said. “We want to be able to provide that sort of service, but at the same time we want to deliver the same technological capabilities, like pickup and delivery, as bigger chains.”
They further separate themselves from gas station convenience stores by offering locally made and crafted products, like honey, candles, and handmade soaps.
“Having these small, local businesses supported I think resonates well with people, and I would rather do that, even if it doesn’t mean a wider profit margin,” Borne said.
Most recently, the store has celebrated getting a soft-serve ice cream machine and receiving approval to serve fresh pizza, which can be ordered ahead by calling the store.
One of their favorite features since opening the store has been the breakfast crowd. Starting at around 6 a.m., corrections officers, nurses, and other early risers stop at the trading post to start their day.
The couple takes their community pride a step further by offering discounts to teachers, veterans, law enforcement and nurses.
“We provide free coffee for them 24/7, and we provide a 10% discount for them across the board for all our products,” Borne said.
Beaverlick Trading Post is also trying to make a name as a community asset by hosting events.
On Oct. 1, the Beaverlick Trading Post will have its first annual Fall Festival starting at 3 p.m. and lasting until 8 p.m. There will be a petting zoo and pony rides, food, hot apple cider, caramel apples, pumpkins and mums for sale, along with a variety of products from local vendors.
The store is also planning a Christmas festival on Dec. 17, with similar offerings and live Christmas trees.
“We want it to be a place that people look to as a community center,” Borne said.
And the community has responded. Reviews of the business that opened just a few months ago celebrate their low prices and friendly spirit.
While many have commented on the fun merchandise and convenience of the new store, nearly everyone comments on the trading post’s small-town atmosphere.
One shopper on a road trip left a comment thanking the store for the “great talk, coffee mug and kindness,” while another said, “If you haven’t stopped in this little store yet, you are missing out.”
The Beaverlick Trading Post, located at 2009 Beaver Road in Union, is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.