Monday, June 30, 2008

Rural grocery stores banding together to survive

Small grocery stores are banding together to stay afloat and serve tiny towns. In Kansas, a store must buy $10,000 worth of inventory for a wholesale grocery truck to stop, Marci Penner writes for the Daily Yonder. If stores purchase less, owners must pay penalties, or, more likely, the truck won't stop at all. (Photo by Dave Leiker)

Penner details ways store owners sidestep minimum purchase requirements, including multiple stores ordering together and grocers who own multiple stores serving as distributors. "Many of the small grocers say that their biggest downfall is competition with super stores. We can call it natural to shop where you think prices are lower (not always true), but we have to make it natural to support the local store," Penner writes.

The Rural Grocery Store Summit, organized by Kansas State University's Center for Engagement and Community Development, allowed grocery store owners, city representatives, distributors and rural advocacy agencies to come together on June 1 to discuss similar challenges they face. Two primary issues were distribution and customer loyalty. "Citizens of a small town find it very inconvenient if they don't have a store," Penner writes. "Many will run to the local store for milk and bread yet buy the majority of their groceries at a super center. That trend must reverse for small town grocery stores to survive." Penner also reminds store owners that "to succeed, a small store must be clean, efficient, and community minded." Kansas State's CECD adopted the rural grocery store issue as a project. Click here to learn more.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

My family owned a small grocery business in South Whitley, Indiana, for 30 years.

The store was 10,000 square feet - a midget compared to today's markets. But we knew our customers, we delivered groceries to anyone who needed them, and we helped customers by allowing charge accounts to get them through until their next paycheck.

I truly miss those days when life was so much simpler and less harried.

I was born into the grocery business - my dad and mom bought the store in January 1948 and I was born in February 1948.

In a couple of days here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I now live, the last small grocery store will close. I don't count stores such as Trader Joe's, Fresh Market, etc., as true grocery stores of the old days.

What a shame, but the reality is that the smaller stores simply cannot compete against the likes of Wal-Mart.