By Sue Moore
“We need our own store. It’s too far to go to get the daily necessities when you are as far away from anywhere if you live in Fulton,” said Janet Mendocha as she greeted customers on her opening day.
What used to be Thrashers store in Fulton closed several years ago, leaving the community of about 650 people with the nearest store 15 miles away in Vicksburg, 20 miles in Battle Creek or about 10 miles in Athens. Mendocha has lived just across the street for 24 years from her newest endeavor, the Fulton Little Store which she purchased in a tax sale from Kalamazoo County in a roundabout way.
Since she had worked for the previous owner Mindy Jones, Mendocha knew the business and wanted to save it for the community; she felt Fulton would be dead without a general store. She approached the Wakeshma Township board to purchase it before it went to auction and it did. It then turned around and sold the property to her for the purchase price from the county.
She and her husband Jim, sons Matt and Mike went to work cleaning, painting and stocking the vacant building for the grand opening on Saturday, October 15. Her mom, Yvonne Prosser, who lives in Vicksburg has been helping out with moral support every day.
Mendocha worked with Kalamazoo County State Bank (KCSB) for the loan to restock the store. “They were amazing. They helped me negotiate with Mary Balkema, the county treasurer, to make sure that I got the best deal possible.”
The shelves contain everything from bread and milk to hammers and nails, most anything that one would need at a moment’s notice. Its interior is clean and bright with quilts hanging on the walls from Cindy Prosser’s Big Island Quilt store in Schoolcraft.
Mendocha’s husband Jim is a retired contractor and a great cook, she said. He will be completing a Health Department Servsafe certification this fall. The plan is to open the kitchen by early 2017 for nice, warm, hearty food that farmers need especially in the middle of the day to keep going so they don’t have to drive an hour away to eat. The kitchen will provide breakfast, burgers, lunch specials and pizza, all as carry out items because the store lacks public bathroom facilities.
The hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. The phone number is 269-365-5677.