15 Small Town Mom and Pop Shops Worth Checking Out

Good Things Grocery

Good Things Grocery is in an ideal location: the center of Main Street near the San Marcos River in the town of Martindale, Central Texas. Occupying space once occupied by the Merchants and Planters Bank, the market leans against a grassy courtyard and stands squarely in a group of turn-of-the-century red-brick buildings opposite the town hall. Owners Taylor Burge and
Austin Burge conceived the idea of ​​a small town grocery store with curated food options a long time ago, but the pandemic set the plans in motion.

As owners of Chaparral Coffee in Lockhart, the couple had seen their coffee sales take a hit at the onset of COVID-19. Anticipating food shortages, they seized the opportunity to start selling basic cafe items and found success.

“We were like, ‘OK, we’ve got deli meats here, so let’s cut the deli meats, package it up, and sell it,'” Taylor says. They did the same with other commodities and added more vendors. “We just turned the 600 square foot cafe into a miniature market in order to stay viable,” she says.

Pimento cheese in a small glass jar on a plate of crackers

Taylor’s famous chili cheese. Photo by Melanie Grizzel

When coffee sales returned, the Burges needed a place to house their new market. At the end of 2020, they opened the Martindale store. The city bordered on relatively desert territory before Good Things: Options were the only local food provider, Dollar General, or driving to Kyle, San Marcos, or Lockhart for regular groceries. A year and a half later, they opened a second location in Lockhart Square.

While the Martindale store was the first, Taylor admits there’s a built-in seasonality to this store — people are strolling around town or stocking up before heading to the San Marcos River. Meanwhile, the Lockhart store is loosely considered Good Things Grocery’s flagship. It maintains heavy foot traffic from its location in the square, where some locals go several times a week to pick up essentials.

Inside both stores, the decor is fresh and inviting, and there are plenty of little treasures to unearth between the shelves. This includes the take-out section featuring hummus, chicken salad, and a Texas delicacy, Taylor’s Chilli Cheese. Customers can find local produce, meat, grass-fed milk, alternative milks, farm-fresh eggs, and local kombucha, as well as vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. “We have these items that they can’t get in the HEB that really bring a lot of value to their lives,” Taylor says.

Tucked away in the back is a curated natural wine section that rivals any big city wine store. Somehow, well-known winemakers like Furlani and Glou Glou make their way to the little grocery store in the middle of Caldwell County. “We like to focus on natural, organic wine with a story behind it,” says Taylor.

Good Things Grocery embraces the tradition of small-town grocers, and while the original idea was modest, Taylor lacked neither the ambition nor the foresight to scale the business.

“I want it to be a brand that can be a small family store duplicated in other cities, but also a bigger chain maybe later,” she says. “You know, I was just wondering if this could happen.” -E. Ryan Ellis

404 Main Street, Martindale. 110 S. Commerce Street, Lockhart. 512-357-4417; goodthingsgrocery.com. Open every day. Essentials: alcohol, food, souvenirs, treats.

About Octavia A. Dorr

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