Ashton General Store celebrates 20 years

ASHTON — Twenty years may seem like a long time for many people, but for Ashton General Store owner Don Bianchi, it passed in the blink of an eye.

"It went a lot faster than I thought," he said. "It's surprising and a lot has changed."

Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., Bianchi, who has a degree in business and some experience in the grocery world, moved to the Osceola County area with his wife, who is originally from Michigan. Bianchi struggled to find work, but became interested in the store when it came up for sale. He contacted his father, who jumped on the idea, and the pair have been working together since.

The Ashton General Store carries a wide selection of products, including basic packaged and frozen groceries, fresh produce, refrigerated items, pet supplies, hardware items, beer and wine and a full deli case of meats and cheeses.

"Our calling card is our meat," Bianchi said. "Our burger is what everyone comes in for because we cut it fresh every morning and we make sure we don't cut any thin steaks. We want steaks that will make people say, 'wow, that's a steak.' That's what we're known for.

"I try to make it a one-stop shop as much I can. People that are in town I try to keep in town, and the people coming from down state I try to get them to stop up here and not take their items with them. They can come here and go right to their cabins."

Through the last 20 years, Bianchi believes he has provided a business that is local and one that tries to offer fair prices. His theory is to sell as inexpensively as possible so more product goes out the door. The more people know about his low prices, the more people will venture to his store whether they stay in the area or travel north and south.

"I like the rapport with the customers. That's the most fun," he said. "I also like being in control of the store, but that means I'm here every day and I'm sure items are of quality and the right items to bring in. You've gotta be on it all the time. It's a lot of work, but it pays off. It's a hard market right now."

He credits his success of the last two decades to the people who walk through the door and to his knowledge of the industry.

"I think a lot of it is my knowledge of the business and the customers, and being fair with them as much as I can," Bianchi said. "I try to give them the product that they want and offer them customer service as best I can."