Grocery Store Owner Touches Customers’ Lives

Knowing Your Neighbors: Hoyt Lakes IGA

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In the heart of every small town, is a man with a big heart.

“Done it all my life, I’ve always tried to help people,” said Stutzman.

In Hoyt Lakes, that man is Joni Stuzman

“Small community, if you don’t reach out, help all of our customers, we won’t be here in the future,” Stutzman said.

Joni has owned the local IGA since 1985.

“As an individual grocer in a small town, you have to take care of the customers, whatever your customers’ needs are,” he explained.

But for the past 30 years, he has done so much more for the people of Hoyt Lakes than just provide groceries.

“If that’s postage when the post office isn’t open, then we take care of giving them their stamps so that they can have the postage. If that means cashing their paycheck so that they have gas to go to work the next morning, that means cashing their paycheck,” Stutzman said.

Joni says in a typical week he’ll cash about 30 paychecks.

“Another one waiting right there, so that’s three in the last 10 minutes,” he smiled.

There are certainly times when he gets left holding the bag.

“That’s part of business, and we’re willing to take that because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

It’s the lending of a hand to someone who needs it, that makes the people of Hoyt Lakes happy to live where they do.

“You do need to do that in order to make a small community tick,” Stutzman reflected. “The camaraderie, the knowing that I’m there to help you if you need help.”

And happy to know a neighbor like Joni.

“That you don’t get in a big town,” Joni smiled. 

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