When Sarah (Behrens) Torres was growing up in Dysart, she worked at Terry’s Food Center, the community’s grocer and a fixture in the town for more than 25 years at the time.
“I enjoyed working there because I loved interacting with the community,” Sarah said. “Everyone who worked there was friendly and the people who came in interacted with us on a daily basis. I really did love that job.”
22 years after leaving Dysart and the grocery store, Sarah and her husband Bobby are now the official owners of Terry’s Food Center in its moment of need. The transition from the Trunk family to the Torres family took place on July 1 and the new owners have already moved into town and are ready to go.
“I had only been to Dysart twice, but talking with the owners I only grew more and more interested,” Bobby said. “It was a big decision, but we’re here and we’re going to bring back this grocery store.
In January, owners Darren and Sue Trunck announced to the city council they were selling Dysart’s only grocery store in order to focus on the business in Reinbeck. If the store was not sold by the end of the year, it would be shut down. This closure would leave Dysart residents and households along the Benton-Tama county line with fewer options for their grocery needs.
“Had we lost that grocery store, we were going to start to have some serious challenges in the community,” Katharine Ollendieck, Tama County Economic Development Director said. “As a resident of Dysart myself, I felt obligated to help Darren and Sue find a local investor to take over and keep our small town grocery store alive as it hits 50 years later this year.”
But instead, Sarah learned her former workplace was up for sale and spoke with her husband about purchasing the store. Even before, Sarah had interest in raising their children in the same community she grew up in and having them attend Union. The store also meant a lot to her parents, Rich and Vicki Behrens.
“I have fond memories in Dysart and want my kids to have that as well,” Sarah said. “We want to keep this store alive and keep people coming in for years to come.”
The family stated they do not wish to make sweeping changes to Terry’s going forward. The building will be painted and lights will be replaced with LED bulbs. Their deli will be open all day as the store moves towards a catering service. Bobby plans to add Texas-style barbecue for catering in the near future. The couple have begun putting a grocery delivery service together for residents of Dysart.
“We want to get really involved with the community and want to do whatever we can to make it more comfortable to get groceries,” Bobby said. “Everyone loves this place. We want to continue to make it feel like home. Growing up, everywhere felt busy. Here in Dysart, it has a homestyle feel and I want people to walk in feeling that.”
Hours of operation will remain the same and current staff remain employed under the Torres family. A name change is currently in the works and will be announced at a later date.
“We want to ensure the community we will be here,” Bobby said. “Our plan is to grow with this community and watch our kids grow up here. We want feedback and to know what this community needs in order to continue.”