Hlas: DeVries goes from QB sacks to grocery sacks

Former Hawkeyes star/NFL vet opens a third grocery store, this one in Lisbon

Lisbon's store
Lisbon's store

LISBON — Jared DeVries is making fans in Iowa all over again.

Along with his brothers, Jay and Darian, former Iowa Hawkeyes football star Jared recently opened Brothers Market just off Highway 30 in Lisbon, near the Mount Vernon city limits.

The DeVries brothers had no previous connection to Lisbon. The town came to them, and today there is a month-old, 18,400-square foot grocery store in the town.

When Parkersburg was devastated by a tornado in May 2008, its S&S Food Store was destroyed.

“Blake and Kathy Simon owned the store. They approached us about rebuilding it,” DeVries said. “Given their age and the time frame, they didn’t want to take on that tall of a commitment. Kathy stayed on with our team. She’s our operations manager.”

The DeVries brothers, all former prominent athletes at Aplington-Parkersburg, got busy. A year after the tornado, Brothers Market opened on Highway 57. Instead of driving 20 miles from Parkersburg to Cedar Falls, locals could again get their groceries in town.

Within a year, a Brothers Market opened in Cascade. Residents there no longer had to make 40-mile round-trips to Dyersville or Monticello for groceries.

“Community leaders in Lisbon attended our grand opening in Cascade,” DeVries said. “They loved our store and approached us about the possibility of putting one in Lisbon. So we had a study done. We thought it worked well with our model.”

And now Lisbon. This one has a store, a Cabin Coffee franchise. Cabin Coffee has its headquarters in Clear Lake, where DeVries now lives.

These stores aren’t philanthropic ventures. But they have uplifted three Iowa towns. Brothers Market employs over 100 people, including 40  in Lisbon.

The store’s official grand opening runs from Wednesday through next Tuesday. On Saturday from 3 to 4:30 p.m., DeVries and fellow former Hawkeyes/NFL veterans Aaron Kampman and Casey Wiegmann of Aplington-Parkersburg will have an autograph session at the store. The three combined to play 470 NFL games.

For DeVries, football was a means to do other things.

“My number one goal was to become a farmer,” he said. “Casey and I do that together. (For a 1998 Sports Illustrated story on DeVries and his love of farming, click here.) We own 230 acres near our folks in Aplington. We also own about 1,000 acres in Cerro Gordo County near my home in Clear Lake. Most of that we rent out, and I volunteer my time to local farmers.

“My number one goal was to become a farmer. This (the grocery stores) is my second passion. I love this because I get to meet new people every day. We provide an outstanding product with outstanding service to local communities.”

For those who wonder if Brothers Market would set up shop in their town, DeVries said “We’ve been contacted by numerous communities. We’re going day by day.”

DeVries had 47 consecutive starts at Iowa, amassing a school-record 43 sacks and three first-team All-Big Ten honors at Iowa between 1995 and 1998, He then spent 12 seasons with the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

“After I retired from the NFL, my workload tripled,” he said. He laughed. But he wasn’t joking. 

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