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Detwiler’s Market: One-stop buy local destination in Sarasota area

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Detwilers 3In the quest to support local farmers and food vendors, grocery shopping can turn into a full-time job.

There’s the usual chain grocery store run, then there’s the stop at a weekly farmer’s market, then there might also be a visit to a farm or roadside stand. All that shopping might be fun, but it can take a lot of time.

Some folks in Florida’s Sarasota/Bradenton area have a one-stop-shopping option in their quest to eat local and fresh, and it’s Detwiler’s Market.

Detwiler’s has two stores in Venice and Sarasota and has opened a massive, well-publicized, 29,000-square-foot location on University Parkway in Sarasota in February. It’s located in a former Sweetbay Supermarket space; Detwiler’s shares the space with the also just-opened Miller’s Dutch Haus Furniture.

So just what makes Detwiler’s unique?

Seen for sale at Detwiler's during Florida's strawberry season.

Seen for sale at Detwiler’s during Florida’s strawberry season.

Well, it’s destination shopping—on the travel review site Trip Advisor — the market has numerous reviews and is ranked third for shopping destinations in Sarasota.

The Detwiler family originally hails from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area, so it carries numerous Amish products in addition to the Florida-focused produce. Sarasota has a small Mennonite community, and you can make an educated guess that several of those residents shop at Detwiler’s.

Although not everything Detwiler’s carries is sourced locally, items from elsewhere are picked carefully for quality. The new market has a deli, a seafood counter and bakery. The stores have the feel of a small supermarket crossed somehow with a barn—the look isn’t as polished as bigger markets.

A walk around any of Detwiler’s locations will make you realize you’re not in chain grocery store-land.

You’ll see regular and chocolate milk from Dakin Dairy in Myakka City on sale. There’s raw milk from Jersey Acres Farm, also of Myakka City. Eggs from Sarasota’s Sutter’s Egg Farm are available—but so are duck eggs and quail eggs. (“Try Me!” a handmade sign says beside the quail eggs. The quail eggs are $1.99 for a pack of 15.)

Grass-fed beef from White Oaks Pasture in Bluffton, Georgia, sells for $8.99 for a one-pound pack.

There are flats of strawberries prominently displayed from Bradenton’s O’Brien Family Farms. “Last of the season!” implores a handmade sign.

Groceries at Detwiler’s are for the most part reasonably priced but not always cheap. A whole chicken was spotted for $24.50. Of course, it’s likely higher quality than what you’ll find elsewhere.

Detwiler's new location in Sarasota.

Detwiler’s new location in Sarasota.

Then there are the Amish products. If you’re familiar at all with Amish country—and I grew up two or three hours away from Lancaster, so I did my share of day trips—then I don’t need to tell you their products are known for freshness.

In fact, Pennsylvania native Judy Vobroucek, who lives in Bradenton and works in the same shopping plaza as Detwiler’s, is lured to the market by their Amish products. “There are noodles there I can’t buy anywhere else,” she said. Yet she also enjoys the market’s Florida-grown tomatoes, fresh-cut bacon, and little neck clams.

Some Amish brands you’ll find at Detwiler’s include Amish Wedding and Troyer, which makes a darn fine roll butter. There’s also Amish-branded spaghetti sauce, popcorn, cheese, and baked goods like cinnamon rolls, whoopie pies, and breads.

“The market is my one-stop shopping for items the grocery store doesn’t carry,” said Karen Kuhlman of Bradenton, who buys locally grown produce, grass-fed meats, and locally produced raw milk at the new location.

She said the Detwiler family is always on site and willing to help customers. (She’s surely right, but I had a heck of a time trying to reach them for this story.)

Marilyn Kowak of Anna Maria sings the praises of Detwiler’s seafood, fresh veggies, and the Boyd’s Ham Base, which she uses in soups.

If you decide to check out Detwiler’s, arrive early and be ready to walk a bit. At the new Sarasota location, parking is hard to come by as the store is so busy. And load down your wallet or bank card with a little more money than you were planning to fork over—trust me, you’ll end up spending it.

Note: This originally was published in the Central Florida Agri-Leader newspaper, available at http://highlandstoday.com/list/highlands-agri-leader-news/market-is-one-stop-buy-local-destination-20150323/?page=2. As the Agri-Leader has ceased publication, I’ll aim to do more regular food/agriculture and the occasional travel story here on my blog.

Written by floridaculture

April 27, 2015 at 5:19 pm

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