Remember when you could run down the street to pick up a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs? Residents of Shoemakersville and surrounding areas can now relive those days with the opening of the new Grube’s Dairy Store, just behind 233 Main Street in the borough.
With a national trend to “eat local,” consumers can be assured that all the milk and eggs sold in the family-owned store come from cows and chickens kept on Allen and Mary Grube’s farm, just a few miles away in Mohrsville. The third-generation farm was purchased by Allen’s grandfather, Walter Grube, Sr., in 1945, then passed on to his father, Merlin. Allen and Mary took over the farm 22 years ago and always dreamed of having a small store where they could sell the fruits of their labors.
“I’ve been a farmer all my life. It’s all I know,” Allen said. “When I was in first grade, a guidance counselor called me in and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said ‘I want to be a farmer.’ The counselor asked, ‘Not a fireman or a policeman?’ I never changed my mind.”
Ten years ago, the Grubes’ son and daughter-in-law, Jay and Dorie Grube, purchased their Main Street property with an old butcher shop in the backyard. Allen and Mary saw the perfect opportunity to transform the shop into a store where they could provide fresh milk and eggs from the farm, as well as other products. They, along with sons Jay and Ken, and daughters-in-law Dorie and Ashley, renovated the space over the last few years, and held a grand opening on Sept. 28.
“We gutted everything, poured new concrete and added new wood walls,” said Ashley Grube, store manager. “It took me three weeks to polyurethane the walls and ceilings.” The tidy store features whole and one and a half percent milk, chocolate milk and farm-fresh brown eggs from chickens raised by Dorie Grube. Other items for sale include yogurt, bread, honey, cereal, bulk pasta and Nelson’s ice cream.
What makes the place unique is that all the milk is transported from the farm in an antique milk truck twice a week, and pasteurized and homogenized in the back of the store before being placed in refrigerated cases.
“We pasteurized 700 gallons of milk the first week the store was open,” Jay explained. “The milk comes straight from the cows to the store, where it’s run through a pasteurizer and homogenizer that are set according to the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
Before they could open the store, a USDA rep came out and inspected the process to ensure compliance with regulations. In addition to providing milk for the store, the Grubes primarily distribute to Land O’ Lakes.
Getting the dairy up and running has been a labor of love for the Grubes’ family and friends. Jay Moyer, a longtime friend of the Grubes from Allentown, has brought shredded cardboard and paper for years to provide bedding for the 60 milking cows on the farm. Moyer, a retired farmer, understands what it takes to turn an idea into a successful venture.
“Allen’s a nice fellow and a friend of mine,” he said. “It’s going to take time, but you don’t grow something overnight.”
The Grubes are satisfied with a slow but steady start that has allowed employees to become familiar with the computerized register system and the merchandise. Ultimately they would like to expand their product selection to include homemade juices, teas, lemonade and other items.
In the meantime, to promote the store and share a bit of their farming history, the Grubes will drive their antique milk truck, a 1952 Chevrolet 1400, in Hamburg’s King Frost Parade later this month.
“That’s the local crowd out there at the parade,” Jay said.“We need to let them know we’re here.”
Grube’s Dairy Store is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The store manager can be reached at 484-660-3758 or on Facebook at Grube’s Dairy Store.