Steve and Martha Esh started Country View Market in a tiny, portable building in Greene County, Tenn., selling specialty items to locals and neighbors—some of who would make weekly 70-mile trips, just to purchase the hard-to-find meats and cheeses. Word of the roadside business quickly spread, and rapid growth prodded the couple to build a much larger storefront less than two years after they opened in 1997.
Now, the Esh family has established a similar store in Charlotte, Tenn. The 5,000-sqaure-foot building is reminiscent of yesteryears, a country store that sells a little bit of everything. Unique foods and gifts fill the space, providing shoppers with product they may not find at the supermarket or department store.
“Our vision has always been to provide people with special options. But it’s more than what they pick up here—we try to give people an experience,” Steve says. “It’s amazing how many people say, ‘we’re tired of shopping at those big places. Even though your store is small, we just love to be here and shop something different.’ We make it worth people’s while to drive here.”
Because the store is mostly maintained by Esh family members (Steve and Martha have five children), Country View Market has created a familial environment that adds even more appeal to the place.
“If I’m not around, my daughter is. If she is not, my son may be,” Steve says. “Our mission is to give people the best deals we can, and the best service we can.”
The store on Highway 48 North cultivates a distinctive market of goods, filling their front porch with Amish-made hickory furniture, the bakery with freshly made cakes and cookies, and shelves with local dairy product and items you won’t find in mainstream supermarkets. It’s an eclectic blend of rural convenience store, grocery and gift shop, all rolled into one.
Adding even more charm is a down-home vibe that lets people know they’re welcome to take their made-to-order sandwich and swing on the front porch, or spend hours browsing the aisles for a spice they’ve never tried.
For many, that touch of nostalgia is what keeps them coming back.
“You know, I think it reminds people of yesteryear. When we built the store, we tried to keep that in mind,” Steve says. “We carry a full line of glass bottled sodas. They’re very hard to find, and we have to go to North Carolina to pick these up. I’ve had people come in, say, ‘Oooh, I haven’t had one of those since I was a child!’ That’s all part of what we are trying to do here.”
Country View Market also offers a large stock of canned goods, and bulk items such as candy, baking supplies, flour, pastas, cereals and more.
“We buy in bulk, then downsize it into retail bags. It’s more of a Whole Foods kind of concept,” Steve said. “But we’re by no means trying to compete with a supermarket. We had to find our own niche. So in addition to distributors, we’re in contact with a lot of small, home-based businesses.”
Though the Esh family doesn’t make the product they carry—besides lunch items—much of the food is either homemade or American made. They have a smattering of pickled vegetables, salsas, butters and jellies from states like Tennessee, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The store holds nearly 60 different kinds of cheeses from dairy farms across the country, and they get their eggs from several mini-farms in the area.
“A friend of mine in East Tennessee makes jams and jellies, so we sell it for him. Another friend of ours has a bakery that makes our dessert items for us and provides us with a full line of breads,” Steve says. “We don’t make it, but it’s homemade stuff.”
And for the holiday season, Country Market View is the ideal location for a one-stop shop for a meaningful gift. They offer custom gift baskets—customers pick the exact items they want from throughout the store—and pre-made ones. In addition, the retail segment of the store carries handmade birdhouses, home accessories, natural skin and laundry products, kitchenware and more.
Steve attributes much of the success of the family-owned business to his faith.
“We’ve worked hard and we still do, but we believe we’ve been successful because of the Lord blessing us,” he said. “The Lord has blessed us in the store business since day one, and we’re happy to be here in Dickson County.”
For more information on Country View Market, go to their website at www.countryviewmarketonline.com or visit the store at 3368 Highway 48 North in Charlotte, Tenn.