Lumberton General Store

A decades-old building with a completely renovated interior, shiny new exterior paint and pies to die for inside sits on the southeast corner of Route 68 and New Burlington Road in the Wilmington hamlet of Lumberton.

Emma Buchanan
Emma Buchanan

Its rebirth is a welcome sight in a community that fretted about the eyesore the once iconic 68 Family Restaurant had become after it was left to waste away in 2015. The unlikely yet perfectly logical new owners, Farm Bureau members Emma Buchanan and her husband Sam Ginn, came by way of San Francisco, though at least one of them had left their heart in northern Clinton County long ago.

Buchanan would often speak to her husband about the place she grew up and the old restaurant that had been so important to her and her family. Ginn, a California native, started in the restaurant business when he was 15 years old. Somehow, Buchanan said, she convinced him to move back to Clinton County around the time they started their family. Once they did, her dream for the old restaurant became his, too.

She had a vision for the old building, which was once owned by her grandfather Hiram Bledsoe. She wanted to restore it to its original restaurant roots, but also add a general store element to showcase local producers and their products.

“The old place was a very classic diner. It was kind of a greasy spoon. You could get home-cooked country meals,” Buchanan said. “So I wanted something like that to return, but I also wanted the general store aspect that we’re bringing to it.”

The building itself is owned by Paul and Randy Wyatt, owners of The Cabinet Gallery next door, who didn’t know what they were going to do with the place when they bought it. But, once they talked with the couple about their business plan, they couldn’t wait to get started helping bring it to fruition. In fact, they did an awful lot of the renovation work inside to bring the place back to life.

Lumberton General Store Dining Room
Lumberton General Store Dining Room

The whole community was abuzz with excitement as work started in 2020, Buchanan said. The anticipatory word-of-mouth was the best marketing they could have asked for, she said, and something that never could have been bought. On a recent random Thursday afternoon, there wasn’t a booth to be had during the lunch rush. Lumberton General Store has been a success ever since it opened its doors in July 2023.

They are sourcing as much of their menu as they can from local farmers, bakers and other vendors, which they plan to expand as the “general store” part of the business grows. They admittedly have a long way to go.

Slowly, they are building up their store shelves and industrial coolers with honey and jams, meats and dairy products from local farmers who otherwise could only sell their products at farmers markets in warm months.

“Growing up around here, we had to go 15 minutes this way, or 15 minutes that way to get a gallon of milk,” Buchanan said. “So providing those essential items, especially local essential items, that people can just come and pick up is something that just hasn’t been available in the northern part of Clinton County.”

Their long list of vendor partners and local producers includes Farm Bureau members Swallow Hill Jersey Dairy and Happy Cow Creamery, along with Walnut Ridge Acres, Bank Barn Meats and Bee Wild Honey Farm, just to name a few.

Lumberton General Store Products

“You have all these people down the street, they’re raising great cattle and milling things and creating all these different things. But then most of the people in the area, including ourselves, go to Kroger and buy our food,” Ginn said. “If we can just try to connect with the people producing stuff, sell it to the people right here, all of a sudden, I think that creates an awareness about the quality difference of what’s being produced in the area. It also boosts the local economy.”

Both the owners and the vendors are willing to try to see what works and what doesn’t during this period of growth, Ginn said. Buchanan’s mother ran the local farmers market for years, so the connections with local producers are there and that is half the battle. The other half is making sure folks know that an alternative to purchasing their food year-round is available at the general store. They are using word-of-mouth and social media to get the word out.

Ginn said the restaurant’s success and the community support Lumberton General Store has seen in the months it has been open really boils down to a few simple things that all the marketing dollars in the world couldn’t buy.

“Be nice, be friendly, serve good food, and don’t totally blow it,” he said with a laugh.

Photos by Brooke Beam

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

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Matt Aultman

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Jaclyn De Candio

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Coshocton County Farm Bureau

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Groovy Plants Ranch

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Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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