The store stands at the top of the Greene County hill on State Road 67/231 behind a sign subtly decorated with a cross.
After Richard and Verna Stutzman moved to the area three years ago from Flat Rock, Ill., they purchased the Slabaugh General Store farther up the road in Owen County. They changed the name, then moved the store to the new location and held a grand opening in April.
After extensive remodeling and a large expansion, the store occupies a former pole-barn machine shed, now transformed into a bright and shining grocery space with lots of natural light.
Fridays and Saturdays are always busy days at the store when lots of shoppers come to buy bread. Every Friday morning, fresh homemade whole wheat, white, cheese and pepper cheese bread along with some special cinnamon rolls arrives from Edna's Bakery, a local Amish bakery.
On the first weekend of every month, Edna delivers the usuals plus the treat of an extended variety of breads, which may include pumpkin and zuchini bread, angel food cakes and whoopie pies -- all depending on the season and Edna's whim.
Whoopie pies, sometimes called whoopie cookies or just whoopies, are the homemade Amish version of a cream-filled cupcake. They come in chocolate and pumpkin.
One popular feature is the store's deli counter. It's open every day for sandwiches made to order with bread from Edna's Bakery and meats and cheeses from Holmes County, Ohio.
Stutzman says 90 percent of the meat and cheese the store sells comes from Holmes County which is home to one of the largest Amish communities in the country and has developed a reputation for quality foods.
The store also carries a very large offering of every kind of nut and apple butter, spread, jam and jelly imaginable from Amish communities all over the United States.
Wander the aisles to find organic rolled oats in bulk and other bulk grains, Prairie Gold chemical-free wheat flour from Montana, bulk spices, bulk flavored gelatin, an all-natural line of vitamins and food supplements, cold juices and natural soda pop, nuts and candy, and locally grown fruits and vegetables in season.
Stutzman says he tries to stock natural foods as much as possible and carries a variety of goods free of msg and other chemicals. He also keeps a selection of Amish country cookbooks including those by Mabel Yoder, a resident of the Freedom area whose recipes have been very popular.
Also inside there's a regular line of groceries, household and other sundry items including some natural salves and remedies and a line of stainless steel kitchen knives at impressive prices.
Outside, the wares of several local Amish craftsmen are displayed which may include wind chimes, lawn furniture, decorative items and plants.
The Freedom Country Store is a Stutzman family operation. Richard and Verna have eight children and live next door to the store in a farmhouse they also remodeled. One son, Jason, 23, is a teacher at the Hilltop Christian School nearby. Jonathan, 21, is a cabinet installer working in Pennsylvania. Their daughter, Rose, and another son, Larry, help out in the store regularly stocking shelves or checking out customers. The younger children, Lamar, Miriam, Paul and Martha, may help occasionally and enjoy the fact that so much candy and soda is close at hand.
The Stutzmans are part of a growing Amish community of about 30 families and more than 200 people in Owen County and northern Greene County. The store was first started in the mid-1990s. Amish craftsmen also work in two woodworking and cabinetmaking shops nearby, one of which constructed the store counters.
The store welcomes and accommodates shoppers arriving in most any form of transportation. There's a place to park a bicycle, hitching racks for those traveling by horse and wagon or buggy, and plenty of parking for gas-powered vehicles.
The store is open six days a week, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The store is always closed on Sunday.
For more information, call 875-3996.