A group of six investors have opened a new Hutterite Store at one of the malls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to market goods to the general public made in nearby Hutterite colonies. According to a story last week on the website of KELO TV in Sioux Falls, the store has become a big hit in its first month of business.
The manager of the store, Mike Hofer, is careful to provide an altruistic frame in his responses to the reporter’s questions: “We want to provide a mechanism for the colonies to market their products so they can grow and flourish and so everything you see in here is a snapshot of the things they do,” he enthuses.
While the store carries a variety of goods fabricated by the different colonies—brooms, napkin holders, furniture, and so on—apparently the best-selling items are the freshly-butchered chickens. The shoppers are snapping up the chickens because they are raised without drugs, hormones, or antibiotics, and while they are not free-range, they are butchered and cleaned by the Hutterites. The people of the Sioux Falls area are buying them up presumably because of the perception of quality—1700 chickens sold on the grand opening weekend alone.
Mr. Hofer believes that people will also pay a little more for the freshness and quality of the beef, vegetables, and other foods produced by the colonies. The store brings in freshly baked goods from a colony in nearby Freeman, S.D., two or three times a week, and they sell out quickly.
Hofer is a good spokes-person for his store. “The Hutterites are very nice people. They’re wonderful to deal with. They’re very compassionate and they’re good business people,” he says. He is not above exaggerating the impact his operation may have on the future of the Hutterite colonies: “And now with this store, they can provide a revenue stream for the colony so the youngsters will stay on the colony.”
He was obviously thinking more of the other farmers of the region, who might be better able to keep their kids on the farm if only they had a stronger source of revenue, than of the Hutterites who have other motivations for retaining their closeness to their colonies.
Hofer indicates that the investors plan to open another Hutterite Store in the city of Fargo, North Dakota, next year. It is clear from the tone of the story that the owners of the store are making good sales, and that the people of South Dakota are eager for the quality products that they associate with the Hutterite name.
The Amish generally do not appreciate outsiders commercializing the name of their group with businesses purporting to be “Amish.” It is not clear from this article if the Hutterites mind this new business using their name.