Midland now has old-fashioned community store – Riverbend Farm Mercantile
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Friday, Nov. 01, 2013

Midland now has old-fashioned community store – Riverbend Farm Mercantile

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/29/12/22/XagMe.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - MARCIA MORRIS
    Mary Little with store staff members Arlene Haigler, Nancy McDaniel and Jennifer Price on the front porch of Riverbend Farm Mercantile. Little credits her staff’s creativity and friendliness for much of the store’s success.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/29/12/23/1seKvD.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - MARCIA MORRIS
    From left, Jennifer Price, Mary Little, Nancy McDaniel and Arlene Haigler check the merchandise at Riverbend Farm Mercantile. Mary Little credits her staff’s creativity and friendliness for much of the store’s success.
  • Want to go? Riverbend Farm Mercantile, 3101 N.C. 24-27 in Midland, is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For years, school groups and families have visited Riverbend Farm in Midland to play, learn, take wagon rides and get pumpkins. Jim Little and his wife, Mary, have worked hard to make their farm a fun and welcoming place for the public, and now they’ve expanded that sense of business serving the community with a store called Riverbend Farm Mercantile.

Mary Little says that Jim always wanted to have a little country store, patterned after the Amish stores visited in the mountains. Lessons learned from years of shopping with a wife and two daughters suggested to Jim that there was a market for a country store with carefully selected products.

The building is just what you want a country store to look like – wide porches with rocking chairs, beadboard pine walls, beautiful hardwood floors and a tin ceiling. Mary is quick to point out that everything but the ceiling came from North Carolina, and that they used local contractors and landscapers. The store’s front door came from the old Bethel United Methodist Church sanctuary, just down the road. The Littles are passionate about supporting local businesses, as well as providing a service to the community with their store.

The Littles are selective about what they sell at Riverbend Farm Mercantile. It took Mary more than four months to prepare her first order of goods to stock the store. The variety of the merchandise is impressive: spices and seasonings; old-fashioned candy; sauces and salsa; skincare items like handcrafted soap and herbal diaper ointment; vegetable chips (I like the okra ones); freshly ground peanut, almond or cashew butter; and much more, including lots of things dipped in chocolate.

Mary says they are trying to offer local, healthier products while also catering to specialty diets. So they offer a wide range of gluten-free products, and are looking to add to their selection of diabetic foods, while being conscious of cost.

“Times are hard,” Mary told me. “No one wants to drive an hour to buy overpriced products.”

Riverbend Farm Mercantile offers a family atmosphere, and high quality without the high cost.

As I visited with Mary, Amanda Anderson of Charlotte stopped in. She’d been visiting the pumpkin patch with a home-school group and decided to check out the store, where she was pleased to find unique items and reasonable prices.

“I would definitely come back,” she said.

Mary Little says that already lots of folks, from all over the area, are coming back to the store regularly. The Littles sample new products, purchase more of their recently discovered favorites, and enjoy a hand-dipped ice cream cone on the front porch, just like you’d expect at a country store.

Marcia Morris is a freelance writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at easterncabarruswriter@gmail.com.

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