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Important piece of town

Joe Centers • Jul 28, 2014 at 11:55 PM

"If we lose that store, we will have nothing left here."

Jack Pfanner has lived in North Fairfield 42 years. He's seen a lot of things come and go, but mostly just go. He doesn't want to see the town's only store, Country Counter Market, close its doors.

Talk around town is the store, located on the corner of East Main Street and South Main Street, is for sale.

Ron Houghtlen has owned the store for 21 years. Before he got ownership, he worked for it's previous owner, Randy Garner. Houghtlen remembers how the older residents would talk and he would "just sit back and listen to the war stories."

Houghtlen misses those days.

He said he has had a couple of offers for the store.

About running the store in North Fairfield, he said "I ain't got rich yet." But he makes enough to keep the store open and his son, Jeremy, paid. Houghtlen said the last winter was hard for him because propane was costing him about $80 a day just to keep the store heated. And he understands he cannot offer the prices like the big box stores have due to their bulk buying of items.

Jeremy has been working there for 15 years.

"It's tough getting by here," he said, adding but he is glad they are still open because it makes the people in town happy.

Linda Smith, a 35-year resident of the community, said "it would be a hardship for the community" if the store closes.

Juanita Hadisch said "I would love to see them stick around."

Pfanner, like Houghtlen, remembers the good old days.

"We had two grocery stores, the one that's there now and one across the street," Pfanner said. "We had two gas stations. We had a restaurant, barber shop, two beauty shops, a glass store, a funeral parlor. It's all gone. And we had a bank. It was Willard United Bank, but it had so many names when was here. It was Toledo Trust Corps when it closed."

Along with the store and the library, Pfanner said about all that is left if the post office on a limited basis and the American Legion that "is open two nights a week.

"When the bank went down there was no reason for the people in the township to come into town," Pfanner said. "The people started losing business."

Pfanner said "nobody had a game plan to prepare for the future. They never planned from making horseshoes to making tires for cars. They never planned ahead. It's not Mayberry MFD."

North Fairfield is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

"They incorporated to get water," Pfanner said. "They finally got water in 1957.

"The last two terms I sat on council, nobody came to the meetings. When I first got on council in 1977, we always had people come to our meetings. We had people at every meeting and they weren't there to complain. They always tried to make constructive comments."

"North Fairfield is almost the geographical center of Huron County. They could have well been the county seat of Huron County. They had a thriving little community.

"To be honest, and I am not in business, it is tough for the mom and pop stores to compete with the big boys."

How tough is it in North Fairfield?

"We are the only incorporated municipality I know of in Ohio where you can not get a pizza," Pfanner said.

Reflector Managing Editor Joe Centers contributed to this story.

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