Peppernuts and soap: Prairy Market expands to new storefront

Prairy Market employee Rebekah Nelson, left, and one of the Prairy Market owners, Terri Gaeddert, right, work with soap the store sells by the slice in the additional storefront they acquired. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NEWTON—Prairy Market expanded into the storefront directly to its north and now the room smells like aromatherapy heaven with scents of lavender and peppermint feathering through the store, giving weary holiday shoppers a needed lift.

Owners of Prairy Market, which carries a variety of health food-type items — coffee, soaps and baked goods to name a few — purchased the adjoining storefront a few months ago.

“We were approached [by the building owner] about purchasing the building,” said owner/operator Aaron Gaeddert. “It’s been setting vacant for nine months.”

The previous tenant, Creation Station, moved about nine months ago a few doors north.

The owners of Prairy Market, who are Gaeddert, his brothers and parents, bought the building they’re currently occupying at 601 N. Main St., three years ago.

Gaeddert said he and his mother, Terri Gaeddert, decided what products to move over to that building, which is connected inside by a large archway.

However, Gaeddert’s the one who runs the business and Terri has been helping get things set up on the north side.

Gaeddert said they weren’t planning to expand, but the building’s owner said he wanted to sell it. One of the selling points of purchasing the location they’re in now was how several of the businesses/buildings are connected by large archways through which people can walk.

“When we bought this building, we talked about this connected aspect,” Gaeddert said.

He said that because of the pandemic, the timing was terrible, but it was an easy decision.

“We know we want to keep this connection between Main Street Company, Kitchen Corner and Prairy Market,” he said.

There were some decisions they needed to make, though.

“We had to decide if we wanted to lease it or take it on ourselves,” Gaeddert said.

The influence of the pandemic helped them make a decision, as their retail space has been the only thing that’s been open throughout this time, as they sell groceries. They closed the event space on the mezzanine, slowed production way down in the deli and their wholesale production stopped for a while because there was no demand. They make peppernuts and other cookies to sell wholesale and in the store, as well as wine tasting crackers. The stores that bought those products were closed. During the first few months of the pandemic, Gaeddert said they shut down wholesale completely and now they’re back to baking three times a week and are shipping out peppernuts, again, which also are sold in the store. They’re quite popular during the holidays.

They have five different cookies and the wine tasting crackers, all of which are called Prairy Bites. The store has rounded out their wholesale business so various products sell at different times of the year, like the peppernuts during the holidays.

“We’ve achieved a balanced production, based on the popularity of different products at different times of the year,” Gaeddert said. “Retail side’s been the constant, so we decided now would be the time to open and take over the space ourselves.”

Now, they’ve divided the space between food, food-related and beverage, and non-food items, with the non-food items being sold next door. Those include soaps and bulk sales of cleaning supplies.

“In doing so, that will free up floor space on both sides,” Gaeddert said.

Now, they can carry more products, which will make a big difference at the store. They sold some products, like the ones they’re newly selling in bulk, before, but now they can expand.

Gaeddert said one of the things they’ll emphasize is increasing refill sales as a way to cut down on packaging. People will be able to bring their own containers to refill the bulk soaps and cleaners, which is a benefit from an environmental perspective, Gaeddert said.

The north side has been open about two weeks now and they’re having a “soft” opening. They’re still dealing with pandemic issues, like not being able to get the products when they need them. Next year, Gaeddert is hoping to have a grand opening and ribbon cutting.