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Red Tomato Market

On its way to becoming a community favorite

By Abby Armbruster Published: February 3, 2014 12:00 AM
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Though the store took about six months to complete construction from start to finish, the idea for the Red Tomato Market was about eight years in the making.

Steve Swartzentruber and his wife Miriam had thought about opening a market in Mount Eaton over the last six or eight years, but last summer seemed like the right time to them to start moving on building the market.

"Last summer, when this idea came up again, we discussed it and I told my wife that if (she) and the children would be interested in doing this, I would love to do it, but I (wasn't) going to do it without their support," Steve Swartzentruber said.

With the support of his family behind him, Steve Swartzentruber decided to pursue the idea by opening the store on what was a vacant lot, located at 16000 E. Main St. in Mount Eaton.

"We had initially thought about moving our furniture store here back in 2006," Steve Swartzentruber said, as his family owns Green Acres Furniture. Instead of moving the furniture store, they decided to expand where their current location is so the vacant lot was still open for Red Tomato Market to be built.

The Swartzentrubers broke ground May 14 of this year, and construction was on schedule ever since which led to its official opening Nov. 21.

"So far ... we have had nothing but a positive response," Steve Swartzentruber said.

Steve Swartzentruber said he wanted to make sure the store felt open, had wide aisles, was brightly-lit and could be a one-stop shop for residents.

"We hope when we get done with this, it's a market that people can come and do all of their shopping," he said. "Everything from food to toothpaste."

The store has organic produce, bulk food items, a larger-than-most baking section, an entire aisle dedicated to spices, name brand foods and gluten-free items.

"We have a beautiful building here, and we wanted to make sure we also had the right products in here," Steve Swartzentruber said.

Part of the products featured in Red Tomato Market are part of their own private label, Red Tomato Market foods.

"If you look at the area as a whole here in Wayne County, we don't have a Troyer's Market. We don't have a Walnut Creek Cheese. All of our local people, if they want to go someplace like that, have to drive 15-20 miles," Swartzentruber said. "There's nothing like this in this area."

To bring in the Mount Eaton community and history of the village, the Swartzentrubers turned to the Mount Eaton Historical Society to provide them with photos that signify Mount Eaton as part of a large mural that looks over the entire store.

"The local people have really appreciated it because it's all the things that they remember seeing, and obviously the out-of-town people like it because they can ask questions (about Mount Eaton)," Steve Swartzentruber said.

"We're really pleased with how it turned out," Mount Eaton Historical Society member Elton Lehman said.

Lehman said the historical society picked out photos of older businesses and more recent storefronts to bring the past and present together.

All in all, more than 800 manhours of work were put into the mural with local artist Sue Kaufman and three assistants in charge of the painting.

Under the mural is a full deli case with more than 40 meat and cheese options in the back of the store, as well as a soup and sandwich shop that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner that people can either have to go or eat in-store.

Steve Swartzentruber credits his wife, Miriam, to creating the name of the store.

"We talked about Green Acres Market, or Mount Eaton Market or whatever, and one day, I came home from work and my wife was like, 'I got it. Red Tomato Market,'" Steve Swartzentruber said.

Although the store has been open for about a month, the Swartzentrubers said they still can't believe it is officially theirs.

"I think we still pinch ourselves when we come in here every morning," Swartzentruber said.

"(Like,) 'this is actually ours,'" Miriam Swartzentruber said.

The winter hours for Red Tomato Market are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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