A simple birthday gift from a husband to his wife has blossomed into the store we know today as Rock Run Bulk Foods.
Rock Run is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the corner of US 224 and SR 18, but owner Barb Vogel said the store actually will be 30 years old next year. The Vogels invite customers to take part in an open house 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday with a buffet, food samples and other customer appreciation items.
"For our family, it certainly seems like a marker in time," Vogel said. "It took some dedication and hard work to get here.
"And we, in turn, want to thank the customer base that we've had for those 20 years because, without our customers, we wouldn't have reached this milestone."
"Next year will mark 30 years in business," she said. "There will be another party next year, being the party animal that I am."
The business started in 1984, Vogel said, when her husband, the late Dean Vogel Sr., gave her cake-decorating lessons for her birthday.
"He had lost his job with the state of Ohio," she said. "It was similar economic times as now. It was a struggle."
After she took her class, a neighbor asked her to make a cake for a graduation party.
"From that cake, other orders started to generate from family and friends," she said. "In order to do the cakes I started buying in bulk."
It wasn't long before neighbors started asking if she had a few extra pounds of butter or sugar.
"And, of course I did," she said.
One day, Dean Sr. suggested they start selling bulk foods from their home.
"Of course my comment was, 'Are you serious?'" she said. "From there I spent about six weeks doing research."
The Vogels set up a 10x14 room in their home as their first store, and the store remained there from 1984 to 1993.
"The first order was for sugar, flour, brown sugar and powdered sugar," she said. "I remember that."
A timeline display at the open house is to show pictures of the first store.
"From there, we built on it," she said. "As we would continue to order, I would add things to the inventory."
In 1993, the Vogels decided it was time to move out of the house, and opened a store in part of the area where it is still located.
"Within two years we were climbing the walls there," she said. "We moved to another part of the building. The long and the short of it is we knocked the wall out and took over the entire location of what we now know as Rock Run Bulk Foods."
Today, the store provides a variety of services. Vogel still decorates cakes and the store still sells bulk foods as well as Amish meats and cheeses. But family members have added other items. Her daughter added homemade candies, and the family provides catering services, party trays, gift boxes, balloons and rentals of wedding dcor, tables, chairs, daquiri and pop machines and other food equipment.
Store personnel provide personal consultations also.
"Maybe someone's planning a graduation party or a wedding," she said. "We want to give them the help that they need. How much of what do we need?
"We're happy to do that and we welcome the opportunity," she said.
"What started as a wonderful birthday present from my husband has turned into a beautiful family business," Vogel said. "Everyone has contributed something to make the business grow into what it is today.
"It goes right back to the base of our customers and we have to thank them for us being here."
Vogel plans to let the customers determine future plans as well.
"We will certainly continue doing what we have been doing," she said. "To give the customers the best service and quality and affordable prices."
Recently, customers have requested more gluten-free foods and diabetic-friendly foods, so the Vogel family has added those items.
A ribbon cutting is planned for 6 p.m. during the open house and the store is to be offering discounts, specials and door prizes continuing through the rest of the week.
Store hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.