HELMSBURG — Need a drink? A diaper? An order of wings? Some bait? Helmsburg has a store for that.

Since reopening under new ownership in March, the Helmsburg General Store at the junction of State Road 45 and Helmsburg Road has been renovated, restocked and reimagined.

A lot of the ideas came from their customers, said co-owner Sharon Richey, unloading a shipment of frozen Hunt Brothers Pizzas and popping a fresh, hot one out of the oven for a lunchtime visitor. That was the brand of pizza that the Shopworth IGA in Bean Blossom used to sell before the building was sold and turned into a Dollar General.

“We’ve been extremely pleased with the suggestion to carry Hunt Brothers Pizza,” Richey said.

Story continues below gallery

She loaded the pizza in a box and turned it around so customer Dylan Tiernan, 4, could inspect it. He approved and chose a chocolate milk from the cooler to go with it.

Being somewhat of a restaurant wasn’t really the plan, “but it’s important for people in the area to have some options, or for people coming in off the lake,” Richey said.

The store has expanded its ready-to-eat food items, which include wings, lunchmeat, cheese and crackers, canned meat and microwaveable foods like corndogs for just 99 cents.

“We’ve got a really good hamburger that we just can’t keep in stock,” she said.

In addition to carry-out pizzas for lunch and dinner, the store also is serving a breakfast pizza covered in sausage and cheese.

“Dinner is, by far, the busiest time. Everybody seems to get hungry at the same time,” she said.

Another suggestion was to offer lottery games, and the store had a tiny machine installed on the countertop and the pizza oven put in the back on the same day, she said.

The machine can access just about any type of Hoosier Lotto game. Within the first three weeks, a customer already had a $500 scratch-off winner, she said.

The rest of the store, which can be walked in just a few steps, is stocked with grocery staples and refrigerated items; household supplies; snacks, including some that bicyclists have requested; and convenience store items such as cigarettes and newspapers.

A large selection of wine and beer is in the back room, alongside a wall of fishing supplies and a fridge of bait. They even sell live, glow-in-the dark nightcrawlers. Those were another suggestion, Richey said.

The Richeys, of Indianapolis, have been involved in meetings taking place over the past year about the future of Helmsburg. They bought the store from longtime owner Karen Sooy about a year ago and spent several months redoing the interior, but keeping the mom-and-pop store feel.

The grassy area behind the store is being turned into a gathering space with seating made by local people; and bike racks have been added.

Helmsburg looks to be on the upswing, Richey said. “That’s not why we bought (the store), but we see a lot of potential.”

One of the most surprising things about running it so far has been the ability to meet so many local people.

“Just when we think we’ve met everybody in town, we meet new people. We’ve had a few come in and say, ‘We just live two miles down the road and this is our first time in here,’” she said.

“The people have been so wonderful.”

Helmsburg General Store

Address: 2268 Main St., Helmsburg

Hours: Sundays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Phone: 812-929-7797

Website: Search for “Helmsburg General Store” on Facebook

Author photo
Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.