Small business partners share authentic values and timeless traditions

This article is presented in partnership with Dutch Country General Store.

Traditional values—from embracing small businesses and “Made in America products” to building communities—are at the heart of Dutch Country General Store’s practice of nurturing relationships with customers and business partners.

You could say those values that are part of the store’s DNA are shared by Chariton, Iowa-based Piper’s Candy; Austin, Texas-based Whiskey Boat Goods; and Modesto, California-based McMurry Hand Forged, just a few of the store’s small business partners.

McMurry Hand Forged

“One of the things that really turned me onto Dutch Country was they are a local place that also supports local,” says Justin McMurry, the blacksmith who, along with wife Becki, own Hand Forged McMurry, which makes carbon steel-forged pans, utensils, and other items. “Any business relationship I enter into, I prioritize small businesses, too. It’s great to see so many local farms and small businesses on their shelves.”

Dutch Country General Store chose McMurry Hand Forged pans due to the handcrafted nature of the product.

“They work hard to deliver a top-notch product—through years of training and experience—and it shows in every pan. We are proud to partner with this small American company. The McMurrys are artisans in every sense of the word, creating a beautiful end result that can be used for crafting that delicious meal in any home,” says Dutch Country General Store (DCGS) CEO.

Justin McMurry says he’s honored by that description. “They appreciate the love that is invested in handmade products,” he adds. “When I saw our pans next to and with the handmade soaps, cutlery, furniture, and even seasonings—it’s a privilege, honestly, to be counted among that number.”

He has seen social media posts that trace a buyer’s purchase to the buyer’s dinner table.

“I hand make something using old-world technology, it goes to a store that is an aggregate of old-world charm and quality, then to someone’s home to feed their family—and that pan has the capacity to feed their family for generations,” Justin explains. “That is something that is exceedingly satisfying.”

Whiskey Boat Goods
Another example of Dutch Country General Store’s small business partnerships that goes far beyond dollars and cents, energized by those shared values, is Whiskey Boat Goods, which makes unique and high-quality, hand-poured wax melts and candles.

“They hope their handmade goods bring joy to everyone who receives them, and we couldn’t agree more!” says DCGS CEO, who champions small businesses and the people behind the products.

“When we say ‘small business,’ we mean just the two of us,” says Morgan Hill Kloesel. She and her husband, Eddie, own Whiskey Boat Goods. “So the hands-on approach is essentially just our four hands. It’s a daily grind of production, customer service, product development, photography, social media marketing, bookkeeping, pack, and ship—we touch every single aspect of our business.”

Morgan adds: “We know how hard businesses work to maintain and curate their stores, and we truly take the time to make sure each potential partner is one that matches our values. And with that comes the task of selecting perfect retail partners that represent themselves, and our brand, with the same mindset.”
DCGS CEO says that partnering with Whiskey Boat Goods was easy.

“Their journey was inspiring and takes root in Texas. All candles and wax melts are all-natural and they take pride in them,” he explains. “Before selling, every product is tested and tried first hand!”

Whiskey Boat Goods uses eco-friendly, renewable, and sustainable ingredients, and often their candles have longer burn times.

“Morgan and Eddie are hardworking and very industrious young entrepreneurs. We got to know them personally and fell in love with their candles,” DCGS CEO says.

The Kloesels are in the process of building a new house, which they chronicle on their fun lifestyle blog.

“Eddie and I both have a very strong work ethic. We are both very aware that without hard work and dedication there is no success,” Morgan says. Eddie works full-time in the music business as an artist manager and Morgan’s background is in teaching, as well as blogging/marketing.

“Both of our backgrounds have allowed us to see just how important building foundations and relationships with those we work with are,” she adds. “And it’s just very special that as a married couple, we’ve created this brand. That’s the best relationship we’ve built along the way, if I do say so myself!”

Piper’s Candy
Piper’s Candy has been building relationships and a broad sense of community for 119 years, and in the same location.

Dutch Country General Store chose Piper’s Candy for an exclusive partnership not only because of their world-class chocolate but also because the store is beloved by people far and wide.

“Finding a company with a 119-year history is almost unheard of, and even more so, finding a company that has been in the same, charming storefront on the local town square for all of that 119 years is almost unfathomable,” DCGS CEO says. “The history of dedication to serving customers with the same recipes for all those years makes Piper’s truly one of a kind.”

Jill Kerns has owned Piper’s since 1999. She highlights the store’s connection to the past as a connection to the present and the future.

“We still make the candy the same way, with the same recipes and techniques” developed by Bob Piper in 1947, Jill says. And the store’s physical appearance is mostly unchanged, with the high tin ceilings and wood floors. “We’ve kept much of it the same.”

Jill is the fifth-generation of ownership, and multiple generations have gotten their candy and, this time of year, the specialty Easter eggs, from Piper’s. Piper’s has shipped all over the country, to several countries, and to every continent—including Antarctica.

“We are pretty well known for being a small country store,” she says.

The country store feel certainly is based on authenticity, just as it is for Dutch Country General Store. It’s been two years now since the Davis County, Iowa, company opened a second location, putting down roots in Hannibal, in a store built in the mid-to late-1800s.

Jill is delighted with the relationship and shared values.

“We haven’t sold our candies through any other store,” she says. “Just when we became aware of them and who they are and what they are about, it seemed like a great fit. As people, they’re just wonderful. As a business, you can’t ask for better. They have the same values, quality, and authenticity.”

There’s that theme again. Authenticity.

“It is true for them,” Jill says. “And for us.”

Dutch Country General Store is located in historic downtown Hannibal but also has another location in southern Iowa. Its mission is to provide patrons fine, authentic goods and services, coupled with an inspired nostalgic experience reminiscent of simpler days gone by. In addition to these featured business partnerships, Dutch Country carries unique product lines such as old-fashioned toys, bulk foods, fresh baked goods, bulk candy, personal care items, jar goods, and much more.

Dutch Country’s CEO often says, “When you walk into our store, we’d like to think it reminds you of one of the best days of your life…where there’s free ice cream, coffee, and popcorn, every day.”