Jeremy Ruwoldt, manager of J and A Merchandising of Willshire, looks through some products at his newly-purchased store on Saturday afternoon. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Jeremy Ruwoldt, manager of J and A Merchandising of Willshire, looks through some products at his newly-purchased store on Saturday afternoon. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
BY JIM LANGHAM
DHI Media Correspondent
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WILLSHIRE — From early childhood, Jeremy Ruwoldt remembers following his father around the area to attend flea markets administered by his dad. He also enjoyed watching the turnover of discount groceries and products.
“I’ve always enjoyed bargaining things,” said Ruwoldt. “You put prices out there and people counter-offer you. It really makes it a lot of fun.
“You find something good to deal and sell a little more,” continued Ruwoldt. “If you come up with things that people are looking for, you make them happy and they are happy, so they tell somebody else.”
The merchandising store purchased in Willshire was as much of a surprise to Ruwoldt and his father, Jerry, as it was to them. The store had been J and J Butler Wholesale Groceries for many years. It was popular in the local community, but also drew in many customers from the surrounding area.
Ruwoldt said that the store he and his father are developing in the community is going to be very similar to the Butler store, but with a gradual buildup in retail products as well.
“Really, my dad always wanted this place,” observed Ruwoldt. “We weren’t planning to buy it. We came down here and they were having the auction. It ended up being a good deal so we ended up purchasing it.”
Prior to purchasing and sitting up the Willshire store, the Ruwoldts had opened a similar store in Spencerville is still in operation.
“We have eyed this little town for a number of years,” said Ruwoldt. “We have always admired this corner. It has a lot of potential. If a grocery store doesn’t do it all, the flea market always has a lot of potential.”
On weekend, the Ruwoldts offer room surrounding the store for flea market setup free of charge.
“People can come set up here on Saturdays and we don’t charge them anything,” said Ruwoldt. “We just want them to be neat and clean up after themselves.
“We are trying to help the community out. They come in here looking for retail items, too. We are trying to help that out,” continued Ruwoldt. “When we came into this town, people were excited to see us here. This town is great, if I was in the market for a different house, it would be here. I love it when the Amish come in, they are so friendly.”
Ruwoldt has four children; his wife, April, runs the Spencerville store. He was originally raised in the St. Marys area, where his father owned a nut and chocolate company.
“I love working with my dad,” Ruwoldt said. “We both understand how the other person thinks.”