Local Mennonite family relocates amidst Wawa acquisition
Country Food and Furniture relocates family business to Amelia County.
September 7, 2022
It’s been nearly twenty years since Karen Mast, a practicing Mennonite, and her husband opened their business Country Food and Furniture. This hidden gem of Midlothian Turnpike reflects the traditional ways of the Mennonite culture through homemade foods, handcrafted furniture, and friendly smiles. However, September will mark the end of an era for Mast and her family. Wawa, a leading East-Coast gas station franchise, has since acquired the shopping district in which the humble store resides. Plans to construct a new gas station are currently underway, ultimately calling for the relocation of the family business.
Located just off of Midlothian Turnpike, in the Powhatan Station shopping center, Country Food and Furniture has been open since 2003.
“At the time it was my husband and I, and we had four boys.” store owner Karen Mast said. “We started the business out with two friends, but they didn’t stay in it with us very long.”
This simple, yet storybook storefront hides an immense history of Mennonite culture alongside fresh, affordable homemade foods. They are most famously known for their towering sandwiches, packed to the brim with fresh meats, cheeses, greens, and a handful of other mouth-watering toppings. With over twenty different selections of fresh, hand-cut meats and cheeses, and nearly ten different types of home baked breads, Country Food and Furniture knows all the secrets to crafting the perfect sandwich. At just five dollars, these monstrous sandwiches offer the most bang for your buck.
Despite the craze over the all-famous sandwiches, Country Food and Furniture is also home to a variety of other family recipes and traditional Mennonite cuisine including coleslaw, hot soups, grilled cheeses, fresh salads, and to top it all off, creamy ice cream scooped right from the freezer.
In the main store, aisles of shelves, packed to the edge with homemade jellies, honeys, syrups, a vast assortment of homemade cakes and pastries, along with canned vegetables, old fashioned candy, and a vast selection of spices and baking necessities. In a connecting room, rows of finely crafted wood rocking chairs, dining room tables, lamps, pianos, and benches showcase true Mennonite craftsmanship.
Last year amidst the pandemic, Country Food and Furniture received several offers from Wawa that stated interest in buying out the company’s land. Mast and her family reviewed the offer, and after a serious discussion, they accepted.
“At first you know, it was hard to think about moving.” Mast said. “This shopping center has been for sale for many years, so we’ve been sorta callous to it. Then last year they started surveying things, and so we sorta caught on.” Mast explained.
Plans to build the gas station continued as planned, and Country Food and Furniture needed a place to relocate. “We’re glad we caught along.” Mast said. “Because then we started looking and thinking, which gave us time. It gave us the time to know what we wanted to do.”
Up and running since the 80s, Powhatan Market has since past its prime days, but Mast and her hardworking team continue to make the most out of what they have. “I mean, the building is wearing out.” Mast explained. “It would be time to do some real fix ups. Sometimes, the rain comes through in the bakery.” Mast said. “The building we’re going to is in much better shape, and that will be nice.”
At the end of the day, the feelings for relocation are bittersweet. “I like the thought of being close to home, and I’ve been really encouraged by all the support we get.” Mast said. “ I’ve been driving 16 miles here for the past 20 years.”
Country Food and Furniture will see it’s final day in Powhatan Station on September 23. Plans to reopen in Amelia County will be on October 11 at their new address, 17231 Genito Road. “We never know what the future holds, so the Lord willing, we are all doing this. We will miss Powhatan, but we also expect to enjoy Amelia. It is a pleasure to serve you.”