The group’s first step was to get a small grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to survey all grocery store owners in towns of 2,500 or fewer. But we’re fortunate in this community, we’ve always had a grocery,” says Marjorie Guscette, a longtime loyal Wimbledon Community Grocery customer. In 2007, the Center for Engagement and Community Development at Kansas State University started its Rural Grocery Initiative in response to the dwindling number of stores in that state. A gift of $17 makes a difference. Postal Service to take groceries from the distribution hub on the final leg of their journey to the store, since the mail has to go to these small towns every day anyway. “Many of the younger people think nothing of driving 100 miles to Bismarck two to three times a week,” she added. Profit margins for small stores are razor thin. Is it worth $10,000 a year?”. “So instead of losing a quarter on a box of cereal, you’re losing thousands of dollars.”. Everyone needs to buy groceries. It’s not just people who have trouble getting to food; food also faces barriers getting to people. The change paid off, mostly. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. In 2016, they launched the North Dakota Rural Grocery Initiative. For an investment of $20,000, the chosen applicant would get a three-year lease on the store and the $40,000 worth of current inventory. Today he owns four stores in rural Iowa and coordinates purchasing and delivery for other stores that are too small to place orders directly with the wholesaler. Gas Station. On top of a range of shelf-stable basics, the store carries locally made baked goods and some local produce, like potatoes and onions. Like Wimbledon, Bowdon is a small community (135 people in the town proper) with very few independent businesses, and no remaining local school. And, as with independent businesses all over rural America, the store’s future remains uncertain. Small independent grocery store in 2018 need a new edge against growing competition from national chains and even online giants like Amazon. Beyond any economic impact, he hopes to increase the quality of food available to rural people. Grocery stores struggle to stay alive, even when there’s not a Walmart nearby. As for topics to study, I’d focus on business basics: management, cash flow, marketing. On others, she drives 30 miles to Jamestown, a nearby city of 15,000, in order to stock up on items at the Walmart Supercenter, where retail prices on some things are actually lower than the wholesale price the grocery gets. But the application process closed on October 1 and no one applied. 1,612) in January 1994 followed by a Panora (pop. The Southwest Food Network hosts the rural grocery discussion in the Kilowatt Community Center. Pesch, who works with the food network, said the organization's main goal is improving food accessibility in rural Minnesota. That’s another barrier to entry for traditional businesses. "Keeping small town grocery stores alive is a big part of that," he said. It's a playground, and kids (and, admittedly, I) love it. The North Dakota Rural Grocery Initiative is hoping to help stores and businesses in those towns order together and organize a distribution hub. Other than missing a little milk and ice cream, we barely noticed a change in our meal patterns. However, this volume is currently split up between six distributors doing multiple routes each week. Ehrens is working with groups across the state to address the problem, and she’s very concerned by the shifting food landscape in states like hers. In 2008, Judy and Mike Schlecht, the owners of the Wimbledon Community Grocery, wanted to sell. While the average U.S. grocery store makes about $320,000 a week, Capouch says North Dakota’s rural grocery stores bring in on average just $20,000, and more than 50% have an annual net profit margin of $18,000 or less. Episode 187, we finally get back to building our grocery store in the town market. In some rural areas, losing a grocery store literally means losing access to fresh and healthy food. The small town of Manson, Iowa, located roughly halfway between Des Moines and Sioux City, with an estimated population of 1,636 people, lost its only grocery store a year ago. Younger people are less likely to shop at their local stores, often favoring online grocers—when they’re available—or bigger stores further away. It's a store with 125 local owners. “It’s like other people are deciding what food is being sold here and not us.”. Small Iowa town's only grocery store celebrates one-year anniversary 29 mins ago . So the store decided to restructure as a nonprofit in order to begin applying for government grants and accepting charitable donations. This question was originally answered on Quora by Jennifer Edeburn. With such a low population density, it’s not always economically attractive for distributors to go to certain parts of North Dakota. While the average U.S. grocery store makes around $320,000 a week, Capouch says North Dakota’s rural grocery stores bring in on average just $20,000, and more than 50 percent have an annual net profit margin of $18,000 or less. Capouch is also hoping to team up with the U.S. Alternative distribution models that delivery directly to remote stores fresh food could be a method to harness newer systems for the benefit of independent grocery stores. What’s happening in North Dakota isn’t unique. Turning right into town off of ND 200 West, the one-story red building with a white roof housing the Bowdon Community Grocery is easy to miss. Lack of fresh produce is closely linked to a variety of health problems. In fact, a large percentage of respondents said they do not have a plan to transition their business. You need to know how to redirect a conversation because the less you know about your neighbours (and in a small town, everyone is your neighbor), the better off you are. Very good article. Learn how your comment data is processed. There is a much broader conversation to be had, in that small, rural towns across the United States are dying out. Photo by Becky McCray . Small Town Survival: When the Grocery Store Sucks. And while they sell some shelf-stable foods, dollar stores don’t carry fresh fruit and vegetables, meaning that once they drive a grocery store out of business, the town is left without access to produce. Wimbledon, and other towns where grocery stores are managing to survive, have come up with innovative ways to keep themselves afloat, relying on organizational restructuring, alternative revenue sources, and lots of volunteers. Grotberg thought it would be a great opportunity for a young family looking for an investment opportunity, a stake in the town, and part-time work. Over 10,000 dollar stores have opened around the country in less than a decade. What matters is the Wimbledon Community Grocery is still open for business six days a week. In North Dakota, a study of over 500 food bank customers found that 75 percent had at least one chronic health disease, 36 percent had high blood pressure, and 32 percent suffered from depression or some other mental illness. It’s an economic fact that young people ARE leaving in droves for better paying jobs with a future and quality of life necessities. Convenience Store. In order to help keep the lights on, the food coming, and the refrigerators running in Bowdon, the board opened a thrift store in 2010 for the express purpose of supporting the grocery store. This is both economically and environmentally inefficient, and something Capouch is very focused on changing. Pulaski is now a bit easier with the opening of a new grocery store on the square. “What do you need to be a community?” asks Capouch. Thankfully, we keep a small stockpile of food on hand which is more than enough to see us through any short-term emergency. Save our roads, save our environment.” It would also help stores lower their purchasing costs by setting up distribution centers where stores from a few nearby towns could all pick up their products.