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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

What it Takes to Keep Independent Grocery Stores Open in Rural Communities

In 2008, Judy and Mike Schlecht, the owners of the Wimbledon Community Grocery, wanted to sell.

They couldn’t find any buyers, but the residents of the town didn’t want to lose their only grocery store. So some of them came together and formed a corporation, which sold shares of the store at $100 each, and raised enough to stay open.

Around this time, Wimbledon experienced some losses. In 2013, the town’s school consolidated with another school 10 miles away. Then two years later, the local John Deere store closed down. That’s when the grocery really began to struggle. People now had to drive out of town to get their tractor parts; once they were in these places, they did their grocery shopping there as well.

“Even the people who were loyal to us, they couldn’t make two trips,” recalls Grotberg. “It was really scary for that first year or two; we could just see it falling off.”

In the meantime, the coolers and freezers were breaking down. So the store decided to restructure as a nonprofit in order to begin applying for government grants and accepting charitable donations.

Read the rest at Civil Eats


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