Amish Hilltop Grocery offers a unique shopping experience

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Ready, set, shop! Mary Ellen Wolfe gets ready to grocery shop at the Amish Hilltop Grocery store near Elkport. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Hilltop Grocery, as the name implies, is located at the top of a winding blacktop county highway at 33945 Hilton Road near Elkport. Surrounded by the rolling hills of Northeast Iowa, this Amish grocery store has a lot to offer the shopper. 

At first glance in its rural setting, with horse and buggy transportation a regular occurrence, one might expect a shopping experience more depictive of yesteryear.  

That one will discover is a very modern, clean, well-stocked store. Sturdy shelving proudly displays a variety of products in a spacious well-lit building. The friendly staff, members of the John and Emma Yutzy family, greet each shopper with a friendly smile and helpful persona. 

The family, comprised of 15 children, started the business over 15 years ago. The location of the store and size have changed over the years to accommodate the community's needs. The family was familiar with other Amish grocery stores in other communities and decided to bring a similar service to their own community. The owners stated, “We had a big family and wanted something for them to do. It helped with our grocery bill and helped other people with theirs.” They spoke to business owners of other stores and made contact with the suppliers they were accustomed to working with to help them get their enterprise operational. Their products come from all over the United States “from California to New York City,” stated John.

The shelves are fully stocked with a large assortment of non-perishable grocery items. The owners describe these items as bent and dent and close-date products. Their merchandise also includes toiletries, over-the-counter medicine and vitamins.  A special section is available for gluten-free products. 

A wide variety of pet supplies, automobile interior products, children’s toys, office supplies and blankets are among the items available for your shopping needs. 

The store’s stock is variable as many new items arriving are in limited supply. Patio furniture, baby strollers, and an assortment of furniture items fluctuate as supply dictates. 

Bulk items

A new addition to the store is their bulk item section. These products include a wide variety of assorted candies, spices, baking ingredients, and specialty soup and dip mixes. Pantry staples such as dried pastas, beans and assorted jams are in numerous supply. 

The family makes up most of the work force. Emma stated, “We have had others work here but it is primarily family.” Three years ago a storm with tornadic activity leveled the Hilltop Grocery store. The building and its contents were destroyed by the strong winds.  “It took us three days to rebuild and 30 days to re-stock,” commented John with a proud smile. The new store is 60 feet by 120 feet making 7,200 square feet total. 

The store is a gathering spot for locals. Shoppers Brenda Friedley and Anita Swisher from the Garber area are frequent shoppers at Hilltop Grocery. These women like the convenience, reasonable prices and the friendly, helpful smiling staff. Shoppers Mary Ellen Wolfe of Worthington and her daughter Keriellen Wolfe, who is visiting the area from Maryland, enjoyed their shopping experience. Mary Ellen commented, “I enjoy shopping here. They have a well-stocked store.” Keriellen is home to help with the harvest. The unseasonabley heavy rain this fall has created a difficult dilemma for farmers trying to harvest their crops. 

The Hilltop Grocery Store is handicap accessible and has ample room for parking. This all-in -one store is the perfect stop for a unique shopping experience.

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