Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Danielle Wargolet
This is the 199th year for the family business called Wessel’s grocery store in Teutopolis.
In 1915, Henry Wessel got involved with the business, he took it from the owners before, and him and a friend ran it.
In 1957 Wessel’s son got involved and took it over from there. Then in 1987, the next generation took it over which is who has it now.
“The biggest change is the prices, in the stores of course, transportation of getting to and from the store since when my grandpa owned it, it was in a different building. But also how less popular small businesses are now a ways” said owner John Wessel.
Just by talking to Wessel you can tell that the store itself means a lot to him and the community itself. You can also see that the community is a very tight community.
“You can get anything from there, they don’t want any change, they want the business the way it is,” said Teutopolis resident Randy Hutmanher.
There is only one struggle that Wessel tends to have is competition, he isn’t scared of losing the business, he is scared of the state regulations because it can create a lot of expenses for a place that is such a small community. Also, with credit card competition because when a person owns a business they have to keep updated with all the technology that comes along with it.
“If you’re good at what you do, competition isn’t a big problem,” said Wessel.
In 20 years, Wessel hopes to see his business in another managers hands, he want to have his business, but he also was to “retire comfortably” as well. He said he isn’t going to push his kids to take the business. His goals is to help his family, to hopefully have his business adapt to competition if he still has.
“I do hope to see my kids take on the business, and I will support them, and help them. But they see the struggle, and how hard it is to run a business, but I will never push the subject,” said Wessel.
The first year his dad took over the business, they made seven times more than they had when his grandpa has made because they bought a new building and updated things.
One thing that is hard about owning a business is that the schedules and hiring new people if need be. He finds that a struggle as well.
When he was little he told his brothers, friends at school, parents, everyone he knew that one day he was going to own his own business. So he went to college and got a degree to work in doing what he is doing.
“Its just a passion you have, not a want.” Said Wessel.
Everyone in community knows this grocery store, not because they can buy almost everything you can get from Bass Pro Shop fishing stuff and guns, to cookie dough. They support everything the community does, because the community supports them.
“We don’t go to Wal-Mart, unless we need to because this community is so close that we all help each other, like a big family.” Said a worker from Wessel’s.
Wessel told us a story about how one day he has five people outside waiting for him to give donations for any type of things, of course he gave them the entire donation they asked for.
“It is important to support your community because they support you,” said Wessel.