October 23, 2019

Fairview Food Market

Celebrating 70 years of serving Fairview

Posted

FAIRVIEW — After 70 years Fairview Food Market has remained an integral part of the community and is soon to host a celebratory event to mark the occasion. The Oscoda County Herald sat down with current owner of the family business Dan Swartzendruber to look back on his fondest memories over the years, and talk about the impact the store has made on the community in the last seven decades.

The store has been an integral part of Dan’s life for as long as he can remember. Thinking back, his earliest memories at the store are of “working” there at the age of 5. He said even back then he was able to see there was something special about about how people were treated there.

“My grandpa (Ray) bought the store, and was the original owner in our family,” Dan said. “I think it was how our family treats people. That’s why we’ve been here for 70 years.”

Dan said the impact the store has made on the community has not been lost on him over the years. He said all three generations of his family, since his grandfather, have been fully involved in the business.

Dan said his families core beliefs form the tenets of community interaction at the store. He said the family’s religious beliefs are what drive the compassionate way the store is handled. He said that is no more evident in the way the store handles cigarettes and alcohol.

“We don’t sell alcohol or cigarettes or anything like that at the store,” Dan said. “That’s not because we think the people who use those things are bad, but because they’re vices. We don’t want to profit off of other people's misfortune.”

Some of Dan’s favorite stories about the store revolve around events that his father and grandfather used to host for the community. Frequently different contests and community sales would bring what seemed to him like the entire county to the store. He remembers times when there would be lines around the block residents would wait in to try the roast beef sandwiches served at the different events.

“Supporting the community is always the goal,” Dan said. “I don’t do as good of a job as (my relatives) did. They had a great heart for it.”

Dan said he tries to embody the community support his relatives showcased by making the town of Fairview more than just a small town to drive through on the way up north.

“I’m definitely not forgetting the special events,” Dan said. “We want to make it a destination, to give people a reason to stop in Fairview.”

The next event the store will be hosting is it’s 70th anniversary party that will be held at the Skyline Events Center, June 30. Doors will open at 3 p.m. and music by local pop-country singer Sydni K will begin at 5 p.m. Following her will be The Band of Kelleys playing country music beginning at 6 p.m.

Thinking back to 2007 when he originally took over the store, Dan said it was originally a tough moment for him and the family.

“I took over towards the end of my dad’s sickness,” Dan said. “We found out in June and he passed by September. It was sort of a trial by fire with me taking over at 26. It was bittersweet, it wasn’t the way we planned for me to take over.”

Dan said while he stumbled at times, he feels as though he’s got the hang of things. He said one of the ways he connects his leadership, to that of the past, is how he builds on the store’s long history of smoking meats.

In 1949 the store began making summer sausage, which began a long legacy of smoking meats in house. Dan said it was born out of the hope that the store could make something out of the meat that may have otherwise gone to waste. He said he likes the idea of making something from what could have been nothing.

In 1952 the store began making shoulder bacon. Decades later in the mid-1980s Rod Troyer came to the store and began smoking multiple different products bringing his own recipes and building new ones at the store for years to come. In recent years, Dan has taken the lead, winning awards for the store in various state and national tournaments. He said going forward the store will continue to come up with new recipes and try new things.

In the beginning of June the store was severely damaged when a collision between two semi-trailers in downtown Fairview sent one of them through the side of the store. Dan said in the moment the crash was so loud he thought something had crashed through the roof. Fortunately, after evacuating the store Dan found there were no injuries in the incident.

Once all was said and done, Dan was able to gather more information about the severity of the damage done. He said the roof and the structure of the building were severely damaged, the upper half of the building angled from the impact.

“We’ve got a pretty long road ahead of us,” Dan said. “The contractor said we could possibly resecure the building to keep from doing a full rebuild.”

As of now Dan is still weighing the options before he decides what to do. He said the hope is that they will not have to tear the building down and rebuild from scratch. His first estimate is that there will be at least six months before the store is reopened.

Although the situation was less than ideal, Dan said the outpour of support from the community after the incident was exceedingly heartwarming.

“It was amazing,” Dan said. “I knew before that we had a great community that comes together when things get hard. This was one of the first times we’ve been on the receiving end of that, and it’s just so uplifting.”

Dan said his initial social media updates about the store gained far more traction than he expected. Hundreds of comments poured in from the 50,000 people who saw them. On top of that Dan said he is still fielding calls and emails of support from the community asking when they will be back up and running.

One thing is for sure, Dan said the store will be back. He said the amount of support from the community so far is encouraging, and will drive them to reopen as soon as they can.

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