The county has stores all its own. Here’s a quick tour.
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It’s a typical Saturday afternoon at Byler’s Store in Dover as customers politely repeat “excuse me” and jostle past each other to get what they want.
And what do they want? It could be anything from hazelnut butter to scented candles to a kitchen stove.
The 20,000-square-foot retail store is one of the unique shops that draw people to Kent County. Here’s a closer look at that shop, as well as Haass Family Butcher Shop and flea market Spence’s Bazaar, that you can only find in Kent County.
In an age of big-box chains, it’s not often that you will find a mom-and-pop store where you can pick up everything from homemade subs to hand-crafted wood items, outdoor furniture, fireplaces and a carton of milk.
But Byler’s (1368 Rose Valley School Road, Dover, 674-1689) has provided all that since 1974. And amid last year’s recession, the superstore opened a second location in Harrington. The Dover company employs 100.
Its core clients are locals who shop at the store on a regular basis, owner Lyndon Byler says. But the store also pulls customers from Maryland and Pennsylvania. People learn about the store mostly through word of mouth.
Lyndon’s parents, Joe and Amanda Byler, started the store as a closeout grocery store. The other components—the deli, bakery and country gifts—evolved in stages and as the elder Bylers sought new business opportunities to help support their nine kids.
“As a small family-owned business, you put in whatever you can sell,” Lyndon Byler says.
The Bylers found that country gifts sold well, so they added that to the mix. So did bulk foods. Today the store sells more than 200 varieties of candies and 30 types of flour.
But selling stoves? As fuel prices shot up in the 1970s, demand rose for alternative heating, so wood stoves came onto the scene. “It all started out of a need,” Lyndon Byler says.
Locals rave about the quality of cheeses and meats. “If you are a cheese-and-lunchmeat kind of person, this is where you want to go in Dover,” says one local.
The store keeps its food prices low by selling off-brand items in bulk. You can find cereals, spices, freeze-dried soups and snacks in nondescript plastic containers.
Dover retired music and art teacher Andrew Marshall III likes that he can save a few bucks on cereal and steel-cut oatmeal. “When money gets tight, Dover gets it right,” Marshall says.
Page 2: Haass Family Butcher Shop