BELOIT (WREX) — Keep it exactly the same. That's what Steve and Heather Williams wanted to do when they took over a small grocery store in Wisconsin in 2017.
The homemade baked goods isn't the only thing that make Kauffman's Country Store a staple place in rural Beloit. It's also the environment, the people and the legacy it has built in the last 24 years. That's exactly why community members stepped up to keep it going.
"I would always go into that room and look at all the stickers," said current employee Samantha Williams when reminiscing about her time in the store as a child. "I would beg mom, 'could I please get one of the things of stickers?"
In 1997, Arthur and Evelyn Kaufman built a place for families to easily shop for baking, cooking and household needs without driving in to town.
"Loved the place. You know, my wife would call me on my way home from work, 'Hey stop at Kauffman's and pick up a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread,'" said current Kauffman's Country Store Co-owner Steve Williams.
"Fell in love with things like the fresh ground nut-butter and the baked goods of course," said Co-owner Heather Williams.
After the Kauffman's decided to retire in 2017, their store was up for grabs which left locals heartbroken.
"Steve got home from work and I said, 'do you want to talk about something crazy,' and he said, 'okay,' and the kids in the background were like dad say yes! Dad say yes!' I said, 'what if we buy Kauffman's,'" said Heather.
"We told Arthur and Evelyn that we didn't want to change anything. We just wanted to keep the tradition going. Everything that they've created, the legacy that they have here in the community," said Steve.
Other community members had the same idea and decided to join the team. They are serving up the same cookies, pies and bread with the same local food suppliers and the same message.
"They were truly Christians that just loved everybody and that's what we wanted to continue too," said Heather. "Just to help people smile during their day and chat with them for a few minutes."
Keeping a valued and cherished tradition in Beloit, serving the people by putting food on the table.
Steve and Heather hope to expand Kauffman's Country Store in the future to offer more local vendors an opportunity to sell their goods.
Kauffman's is hosting an outdoor market in its parking lot this Saturday and everyday Saturday for the summer season. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Click here for more information.