Small communities require commitment from their residents to continue to economically prosper. Sweet Springs is no different and has, at times, thrived and grown due to unique interests such as the healing mineral Health Springs Resort that operated in the late 1800s or to the Downtown shopping district, which offered a unique experience for customers to visit closely connected stores in an early version of the strip mall concept. In the evolution of the Sweet Springs downtown shopping experience, we see notable residents such as Charles K. Smith. It is also critical in a small town such as Sweet Springs to have residents with a passion and dedication for the town to enable it to thrive. The Koch family provides an example of a passionate business commitment to Sweet Springs and its citizens by ensuring a commitment to the downtown historic district.
One particular contribution of the Koch family in Sweet Springs has been the grocery store called the Sweet Springs Market, or the Market, formally owned by the W. H. Koch Company. This market is a third Generation family-owned business that began in October of 1956 when Ralph and Evelyn Koch purchased the Food Fair from Paul and Margie Hoffman. Subsequently, the Kochs built and moved into a newly constructed and branded United Superstore on Locust Street, which continues to operate today. The Sweet Springs location is actually one of three grocery stores and four pharmacies in the Sweet Springs, Chillicothe, and Cameron area. In the early 1970s, Ralph's son Bill Koch, and his wife, Phyllis, assumed ownership of the market, and under Bill's leadership , in 1982, they doubled the size of the store. Ten years later, the Koch family market became a franchisee of the Piggly Wiggly Company, where Bill served on the Board of Directors and became the President of the Operators Association. Approximately 15 years ago, the stores passed to the third generation of the Koch's, when daughter, Veronica, and her husband, Tony, assumed ownership of the stores.
Second-generation owners, Bill and Phyllis also now provide a much deeper service to the community of Sweet Springs. In early 2018, they purchased a colonnaded shopping building on South Miller Street that was constructed and owned by The Smith Stores Company in the early 1900s. The Kochs are restoring the building, and bringing its usefulness back to the community. The Kochs also established the Sweet Springs Restoration Foundation, which is a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of the community's historic structures.