NOT JUST MILLING AROUND

Ardy and Willard Cordis have been keeping their long-established store The Grist Mill open during the pandemic, as one of the state’s designated essential business types. They’ve had to adapt to the strange circumstances of the times.

In 1985, Isabel and Harley Cordis opened The Grist Mill on East Broadway; then in 1994 they moved the business to East Main Street next to the Senior Center. It burned to the ground in March 1995, and they decided not to re-open due to Isabel being in her 80s. Community members begged her to start again, and when they got a call from the mayor saying he would give them a low-cost loan, they relented. After searching for a location, they settled on purchasing the former Realto Tavern on West Main Street, did a complete renovation, and opened for business again in September 1995.

Isabel and Harley have since passed away and left The Grist Mill to their son, Willard, and his wife, Ardy, who have been involved in its operations since they reopened in in 1995. Elaine Kubler also came on board after the reopening and was a part of the crew for many years. Faye Fischer, who is still working with the Cordis family a couple days a week, has been with them since 2006. For the last few years, Raylene Robinson, of Gentle Touch Massage, has been helping out once a week or so.

The Cordis family has experienced some pretty challenging changes in their business in the last 35 years, the fire, Y2K, and the recession to name a few, but none so altering as what they are going through right now. With so many other businesses closed during this time of social distancing, Willard and Ardy feel very blessed to be open and serving the community they love.

With kids at home from school and so many people eating out less, The Grist Mill is having more requests for ingredients to make meals at home. “We are doing more business than during Y2K,” stated Willard. There has been a large increase in email and phone orders. People call or email their order in, and it is bagged and ready to pick up when they get to the store.

“There have been lots more people taking advantage of Buyer’s Club,” said Ardy, speaking of an Azure Standard ordering system. “Ordering through us works way better than having a drop spot because if something is not available through Azure, we can get it from one of our distributors.”

The Grist Mill, a vegetarian health food store, carries a wide variety of spices, herbs, supplements, organic and non-organic bulk commodities, and much more. Two of their more popular items are peanut butter, ground while you wait, and Zane’s Honey which, Ardy commented, has been “flying off the shelf.” They also have a large selection of refrigerated and frozen products.

Flour has been one of the most requested things. They have always ground their own bread flour, using both hard red and white wheat, but since there has been such a demand for organic flour now as well, they are grinding almost all their own. “It’s by God’s grace we have been able to acquire the grains we need.” Ardy stated.

The Cordis couple are making great efforts to keep their customers safe and healthy.

“We ask everyone who walks in the door to please not touch anything,” said Ardy. “We go around and get products off the shelves for customers so there are no transfer of bugs”

“And we sanitize our counter area after each customer leaves,” added Willard.

They are going the extra mile by having a box on the counter asking customers to write their name, contact information, and date on a piece of paper and drop it in the box in case someone on staff or customers are infected with Covid-19, they will be able to notify the customer.

The Grist Mill, located at 121 W. Main, has not changed their hours of operation, except on some evenings they have stayed open later than their posted hours to allow more people access to the store. Their hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For orders and more information, you can email them at thegristmill121@gmail.com or call 773-4176. Willard, Ardy, Faye, or Raylene will be more than happy to help you out.