Out-of-the-way Little Store fills niche

TOWN OF NEWARK — Resurrecting a mainstay in the Newark area has been a labor of love for the Knutson family. 

Tim Knutson and his uncle David Knutson opened Little Store together on July 1 at 11744 County Road K. Tucked away in a scenic rural area, the family is hoping even more customers will come check out the friendly store with its tasty treats, reasonably-priced gas and warm conversation. 

David Knutson said the Little Store is much needed in the community as residents typically have to go to Orfordville, Beloit or Brodhead to buy gas or snacks. 

“Every day people come in and says how nice it is to have this back again so they don’t have to run into town for a gallon of milk or eggs,” David Knutson said. 

Tim Knutson, the son of Bob Knutson, is a Parkview High School graduate of 2008 and a partner in Diesel Engine Specialists in Beloit. 

Tim’s dad, Bob Knutson, a retired heavy equipment mechanic, bakes the fresh chocolate chip and MM cookies daily, and helps out at the store along with other family and friends. 

David Knutson said he always liked the business. 

“It was just a place to hang out and talk,” he said. 

Bob Knutson said he’s lived near the store with his family since 1979. The wee shop had several sets of owners in the past, but had finally fallen on hard times. When it came up for auction last winter, the Knutsons bought it and started completely renovating it. What started out as four cinder block walls now is an upscale convenience store with a full food menu and a gas and diesel pump out front.  

David Knutson said the building’s roof had to be repaired along with the walls, which were pushing out under the collapsing roof. The whole new roofing system and little vaulted ceiling inside is new as well as the coolers and freezer. A brand new kitchen and handicapped accessible restroom was added as well. 

Bob and David said Tim came there as a child and always called it “the little store” along with its other fans in the neighborhood. Today Tim said he enjoys getting to know all the neighbors better, including some new one’s he’s met. He noted people from as far away as Rockton and Rockford have also traveled through. During the summers the store is a popular stop for bicyclists and motorcyclists. The carry-out food also is popular at the nearby campgrounds in the summer. 

The kitchen features a variety of pizzas, chicken tenders and pieces, burgers, side items such as beer battered cheese curds, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, cheese bread and jalapeno poppers. There is also a Friday fish fry with tavern battered cod or walleye. Even the cooking of the pizzas is a family affair, as they use fresh vegetables in addition to the family’s homemade sauce and sausage. The Little Store also just received its liquor license. 

Fans are invited to “like” the Little Store on Facebook so they can receive updates on new offerings and specials on gas prices. 

The family members say they enjoy their time working together. While Tim said he enjoys cooking, David Knutson does the deliveries and his wife Ann often works the cash register. Tim’s girlfriend Patty McConnell, a kindergarten teacher at Legacy Academy in Rockford, also helps Friday and Saturday nights answering the phones.