Small-town grocery store aims to stay afloat - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Small-town grocery store aims to stay afloat

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WYKOFF, MN (FOX 47) -- As job loss numbers grow, people have to go the distance to find a new job. Some say the flight for jobs is destroying small towns.

The Wykoff Grocery store has been around for about 50 years. It's one business that means a great deal to many residents and if it's up to them, the store won't go down without a hard fight.

"We feel like a town has lost its heart, in a way, if its grocery closes," says Wykoff Grocery board member Eva Barr.

Many Wykoff residents took action when Wykoff Grocery's previous owner wanted to sell the store last year. The grocery has been around for decades and many residents did not want to see it go. Wykoff Grocery has changed owners several times in past years, but one thing that has helped Wykoff Grocery stay alive is community support. And now it's a co-op with 105 stakeholders.

"That makes it a lot easier to share the load with 105 members, rather than having one person owning it. That also, by having members, encourages them to shop here," responds store manager Barb Peck.

Eva Barr grew up in Wykoff. She says when she was younger, the town used to be more vibrant.

"Town after town is sort of disappearing and becoming a ghost town and people are working elsewhere."

Barr says the economy has a lot to do with the disappearance of small towns, because people have to move to bigger cities to get better jobs. Store manager Barb Peck says it doesn't help that the majority of area residents have to go to Rochester for work.

"They, of course, are tempted to spend their money up in Rochester. Anything we can do to have them stay within town and buy their groceries is a benefit to us."

Peck says their store prices are comparable to larger chain stores because they can consign their foods and not have to buy the full quantity. Peck also says, she knows the customers and she'll make sure the store has what their shoppers want.

You can become a Wykoff Grocery shareholder by paying $55 dollars. That will give you a say in board meetings. Or you can just become a member for $35 and you will get store discounts.

Another addition helping the store stay alive is a thrift store that's attached to the grocery store. Many who want to check out the items wander into the grocery part as well.

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