I finally made it to Dutchman’s Store in Cantril, Iowa, last Saturday. You may remember my disappointment at not stopping there when I did my tour of the Villages of Van Buren County last fall, and I’ve thought about it many times since.
This February visit surprised me in several ways. First because it was so darn crowded – I mean, this is Cantril, population 220. And second because there wasn’t the slightest indication that any of the shoppers were tourists (besides me, of course). Everyone was pushing a cart, filled mostly with groceries, and leaving the store with many bags – enough for a week’s worth of food. Not tiny sacks of flavored taffy and containers of bulk spices, which is what I wanted to buy.
To describe Dutchman’s Store is to imagine this: What if a Mennonite family invented a Super Wal-mart? Because the place is huge, and it has everything: fresh produce, candy, canning supplies, bread, gifts, meat, toys, work boots, cheese, clothes, bolts and bolts of colorful cotton fabric, whoopie pies, and everything you can possibly imagine available in bulk. In a way, it’s very much like stepping back in time, but there are also totally modern, bad-for-you products available there, like Lays potato chips.
Cantril is located just off of Hwy. 2 in southeast Iowa. Dutchman’s Store is closed on Sundays. If you go, be sure to drop by Milton Creamery a few miles west on Hwy. 2 for good, local cheese.