The last two years have been difficult for many of us. Small businesses have been hit especially hard. Unfortunately, many have had to close their doors for good. Those who still open their store every day and greet every guest with a smile are extremely grateful to the faithful customers who have made it possible.
New Kitchen Store in Walkerton is no exception. This specialty shop has almost any kitchen or dining room item a home could need, as well as several gourmet foods, making this an excellent stop for the Christmas gift list. That’s true whether you’re shopping for the perfect gift for that special friend or that tricky relative who is always difficult to buy for.
When Phyllis Wille and her husband Chuck went into business more than 30 years ago, their attention was on selling antiques. Kitchenware wasn’t even on the radar.
“In 1987 my husband was going to a lot of auctions, and we ended up having to find a way to get rid of some of the merchandise,” Wille says with a chuckle.
As someone who has always loved history, Wille enjoyed studying the different items that her husband brought home. The pastime quickly flamed into a passion, which led to selling antiques in an online store based in Walkerton.
Dinnerware became a particular delight for them. They especially loved matching designs for those who wanted to replace broken plates or bowls from heirloom collections. Then they discovered that some older dinnerware shouldn’t be used, because it can contain harmful bacteria and viruses in microscopic cracks in the veneer.
“That caused me to start looking for dinnerware with the same old patterns but were healthier choices,” Wille says.
That search started the Willes down a path to learn more about food in general. By the time they opened their new store, exclusively for dinnerware and cookware, they had discovered more about health-conscious living than they ever expected. Soon after opening in 2006, they took their customers’ suggestions and broadened their inventory to include gourmet foods, high-end coffees, teas, spices and oils.
The more they learned, the more they wanted to provide the healthiest and most sustainable options. Today, customers from Walkerton and surrounding areas know New Kitchen Store for just that.
“We have regular customers that depend on us for their coffee, tea and spices,” Wille says. “We have customers who come in looking for a unique gift, knowing they will find it here. Many first-time customers remark that they can’t believe such a treasure can be found in such a small town.”
Through the years they have served several generations of customers.
“The children who came in with their parents years ago are now coming in and bringing their own children,” Wille says.
Wille has always felt strongly about being an asset to her beloved hometown. Every spring, summer and early fall, New Kitchen Store hosts a farmers market on Thursdays in the parking lot. She is also involved in philanthropy, contributing to local organizations like 4-H and other nonprofit groups.
New Kitchen Store is especially known for top-quality spices. Each one comes from its native land, whether that’s nutmeg and mace from the Spice Islands, red sea salt from Hawaii, mustard seeds from the Himalayas, or anise stars from China. They also have a variety of spice blends, from all-purpose steak rubs to specialty blends like herbes de provence and Chinese five-spice powder.
Wille is always looking for high-quality products to sell in her store.
“We take a lot of customer input into consideration,” she says. “If a customer highly recommends something, we will order one to try. The employees will try the item, and if all goes well, then we will order it and put it on the shelves.”
Thanks to her quest for the best, some of the products she offers come from across the world, Like Garnier-Thiebaut linens from France, Alessi teapots from the United Kingdom and WÜSTHOF knives from Germany.
Many of their products are made in the U.S., like 360 Cookware, Lodge cast iron, and Bus Lamson Knives and Tools. All of their gourmet food options, like Frontier Soup Mixes, Annie B. Caramels, Black Rifle Coffee Company, and others, are all produced or packaged in the USA. Others are American-owned, like Certified International tableware and Nora Fleming decorative dinnerware.
They also carry some smaller kitchen appliances like air fryers, stovetop meat smokers, blenders, multi-cookers and induction cooktops.
“We carry a wide variety of middle- to high-end products, and almost everything is from country of origin,” Wille says.
Not only does the store offer a collection of the best kitchenware, but it also offers kitchen and dining room decor that is tastefully eye catching for any situation or season.
“I use several criteria in ordering dinnerware,” Wille says. “What is on trend? Is it made of safe materials? Is it fun to use and look at? If the answer is yes to all of those questions, then I will order the pattern.”
New Kitchen Store continues to wow new and returning customers alike.
“We have clientele from all walks of life and from a wide range of the surrounding area,” Wille says. “People who love to cook, those who have loved ones who love to cook, those who are wanting to learn to cook – they are all customers that we see on a daily basis.”
In the past year, the community surrounding New Kitchen Store has meant more than ever to Wille.
“Our customers are our friends,” she says. “They send us get-well cards and give us the biggest smiles and joy throughout the year.”
New Kitchen Store is located at 330 Liberty Street in Walkerton. For more information, visit newkitchenstore.com or call 574-586-2745.