David Fogg, 78, and his wife, Paula, 61, opened a produce stand in 2009 where their 20-by-16-foot Amish shop will close at the end of December.
The Foggs sell vegetables, eggs, Amish noodles, about 20 types of Amish cheese, 50 flavors of jams and jellies, pie fillings and local honey at The Amish Store, located at 25933 W. Newberry Road, said David Fogg, 78. The store, which has been open for 8 years, will close this month due to a zoning issue.
“There’s nothing like this in the area, nothing,” David Fogg said about his store. “I try to sell something other people don’t have.”
Large white signs line West Newberry Road advertising “LOCAL HONEY” and amish-made goods in bold, yellow and orange letters. The red and white barn-like shed is steps away from the Foggs house.
Although the signs used to be their main form of advertising, Aug. 31 Newberry resident Mary Held, 35, introduced the store to Facebook after first visiting it that month.
“I was just driving by and I noticed it, so I pulled over,” Held said. “It’s a quaint little shop full of affordable products that are a must-have.”
Held taught the Foggs how to comment, share photos and post.
“I put it together for them and showed them how to do some basics with it to get it started,” Held said. “They’re just the kind of people that when I met them I said ‘Oh my gosh, I need to help them.’”
However, three months after going online, Fogg, a Navy veteran, logged on to say goodbye Dec. 4.
“It looks like the Amish Store will be closing soon don’t know what date yet I will let you know,” he wrote. “It is a matter of not putting up with the B S if you know what I mean.”
Fogg said he can’t afford to pay the approximate $30,000 it would cost to fix his store to meet building codes. Two years ago, he replaced the original structure without a permit.
He said, at the time, he had asked former city planner Lowell Garrett if he could make changes to the structure and was told he didn’t need a permit. Now, the couple faces a possible fine for not having a permit.
“We tried to explain that we legally hadn't done anything wrong because the man said it was alright,” David Fogg said. "If I had knew I had to get a permit, I would have done it.”
Bryan Thomas, Newberry planning and economic development director, said the Amish Store is residentially zoned, making the use of the land for commercial purposes unapproved. However, due to the length of time that they have been doing business there, Thomas said, the Foggs’ store is grandfathered in, providing the original structure doesn’t change. The issues arose when the couple wanted to expand the current store and the department discovered the Foggs had replaced the original structure.
Newberry code of ordinances prohibit the expansion of a nonconforming use of property, Thomas said. The current building does not have a bathroom or a wheelchair ramp, which are required.
In addition to the cost of fixing the store to be in compliance with city codes, Thomas said Fogg would need to rezone the property for commercial use, which would cost about $1,700.
“We’re hoping they’re not going to close,” Thomas said. “It’s been here in the community for years and years. We’re actually trying to work with them.”
Fogg said he is frustrated with all the rules and can’t afford the cost of fixing his store.
“I did twenty years in the military and we didn't have as many rules in the military as we do in Newberry," David Fogg said.
Held said she learned about the store closing from Fogg and thinks the community is losing a long-standing business, which is a part of the history of Newberry.
“I think it’s unfortunate that this has happened and is definitely saddening and disappointing because they are just honest and very kind and generous people,” she said. “You just don’t come across that every day. I wish the city of Newberry would have tried to work with them a little bit.”
Despite the store closing, the Foggs have decided to move forward with their business in Chiefland, about 23 miles away. They will open a produce stand in the Chiefland Farmers Flea Market.
"I think it's gonna be great. We're gonna be happy because, first of all, we're going to be together,” he said. “I feel like we've had a lot of success here because of that reason: (Christ’s) been good."
Correction: One of the photo captions was corrected to say the Foggs have owned their store for eight years.