Cantril is a delightful little Iowa town much like thousands of others but with one big exception: It is the home of Dutchman’s Store, a Mennonite-operated, old-fashioned general store established in 1985. Located in downtown Cantril, Dutchman’s is the town’s number-one draw. People flock to it year round by car and even by tour bus. That’s how we got there during our most recent visit. We took a one-day tour of Van Buren County in southeast Iowa, one of our favorite places to visit, on a Burlington Trailways bus.
It’s much like stepping into the past when you visit Van Buren County. It has no stoplights and no fast food restaurants, and that’s by design. But that’s a review for another time.
This review is about Dutchman’s, a general store in the truest sense of the word. A local tour guide told us that it started small years ago and has gradually expanded, now taking up the better part of a city block. Several weeks before our arrival, a new addition featuring modern restrooms, a deli, cheeses and more had just opened. This latest expansion was out the back of the building because that was about the only place left to expand. The other three sides are pretty much blocked now by streets.
A long wooden front porch is what one sees first at Dutchman’s. It is lined with merchandise for sale, and that often includes a variety of home-baked goods prepared and sold by Mennonite ladies who certainly know their way around the kitchen.
The store itself is packed with items you might need and quite a few you probably don’t. Dutchman’s sells food, much of it packaged bulk; fresh produce; clothing; hats; shoes; fabric; spices; baking supplies; books; clocks; kitchenware; gift items; toys; collectibles; candy and snacks. I’m reminded of a commercial for another business that says, “If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.” That likely applies to Dutchman’s, too. If you are ever near Cantril, I recommend you stop and tour Dutchman’s. It is worth the time.
Copyright 2013 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as a review to tripadvisor.com.