Stapleton Residents Band Together to Build a Grocery Store

Omaha World-Herald | December 8, 2008 | By Stepanie Monge
 
STAPLETON, Neb. — In the days before Thanksgiving, the Main Street Market and Deli sold out of milk, eggs, bread and a variety of produce — and shoppers and employees were happy about it.

"It was so awesome!" said Tyler Stille, manager of the new grocery in this town of 300. "We're truly blessed."

He said no one seemed to mind because the store, which opened in mid-November, has largely eliminated the need for residents to make the 76-mile round trip to the nearest supermarket, in North Platte.

Stapleton has not had a grocery for a decade, Stille said.

The Main Street Market's genesis dates to last spring, when the Stapleton Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey and found that 95 percent of respondents wanted a grocery store in town.

Stille, a member of the chamber's board of directors, wrote a business plan with help from the Nebraska Business Development Center in North Platte. "We really had a need and wanted to do something in our community."

Then he tried to get a bank loan. Stille was turned down, but a couple of days later two families in Stapleton offered to invest in the project."They wanted to get Main Street going," he said.

Local business owner and resident Cindy Frey and her husband donated several vacant lots on Main Street as the site for the new 7,000-square-foot store. Stille obtained additional financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration's loan program and purchased two additional vacant lots.

The store broke ground in mid-May and opened to the public six months later.

Kert McKeone, president of Equitable Bank in North Platte, which provided financing, said he had heard of small-town residents banding together to improve their community, but he had never witnessed it before.

The store was an example of people investing "at the grassroots level," he said. Residents recognized that building a grocery would help the town survive, so they acted, McKeone said. That is "something that needs to happen more."

McKeone said the new business is good news at a bad economic time.

Frey, owner of Frey's General Store on Main Street, agreed. Traffic is up on Main Street, especially on Saturdays, said Frey, whose husband's family has owned the business for 30 years. The increased traffic has meant more business for other merchants, such as Frey's General Store. More customers stop at her store after they stop at Main Street Market, she said.

Frey said she appreciated the convenience of running down the street to the grocery instead of driving to North Platte on Sunday, which is her only day off.  "It took the whole day," she said.

The town recently held its annual Christmas celebration on Main Street, and this was the first year that someone didn't have to go to North Platte for the apple cider, Frey said.

The store also has an espresso bar.

Stille, the manager, said the response from the town has been "incredible and amazing." He said older residents are especially impressed to have a grocery in their town.

The store offers carryout service and even makes home deliveries to senior citizens. It cuts its own meat and has a smoker that was used to smoke turkeys for Thanksgiving, Stille said.

Stille said the store is preparing to launch a Web site that will allow it to sell its "Sandhills Beef," which is ranch-raised, all natural and local, to customers outside the area.

Stille said he has received support from other business owners in small towns, including a grocer in Malvern, Iowa, who gave advice about the meat department. The Malvern grocery opened in May.

The hope, Stille said, is that the store leads to more new businesses in Stapleton. Which is exactly what a small town needs to remain viable, said McKeone, the banker.

"Rural America is on the rebound," Stille said.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=1208&u_sid=10507644[/embed]
Omaha World-Herald | December 8, 2008 | By Stepanie Monge
 
STAPLETON, Neb. — In the days before Thanksgiving, the Main Street Market and Deli sold out of milk, eggs, bread and a variety of produce — and shoppers and employees were happy about it.

"It was so awesome!" said Tyler Stille, manager of the new grocery in this town of 300. "We're truly blessed."

He said no one seemed to mind because the store, which opened in mid-November, has largely eliminated the need for residents to make the 76-mile round trip to the nearest supermarket, in North Platte.

Stapleton has not had a grocery for a decade, Stille said.

The Main Street Market's genesis dates to last spring, when the Stapleton Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey and found that 95 percent of respondents wanted a grocery store in town.

Stille, a member of the chamber's board of directors, wrote a business plan with help from the Nebraska Business Development Center in North Platte. "We really had a need and wanted to do something in our community."

Then he tried to get a bank loan. Stille was turned down, but a couple of days later two families in Stapleton offered to invest in the project."They wanted to get Main Street going," he said.

Local business owner and resident Cindy Frey and her husband donated several vacant lots on Main Street as the site for the new 7,000-square-foot store. Stille obtained additional financing through the U.S. Small Business Administration's loan program and purchased two additional vacant lots.

The store broke ground in mid-May and opened to the public six months later.

Kert McKeone, president of Equitable Bank in North Platte, which provided financing, said he had heard of small-town residents banding together to improve their community, but he had never witnessed it before.

The store was an example of people investing "at the grassroots level," he said. Residents recognized that building a grocery would help the town survive, so they acted, McKeone said. That is "something that needs to happen more."

McKeone said the new business is good news at a bad economic time.

Frey, owner of Frey's General Store on Main Street, agreed. Traffic is up on Main Street, especially on Saturdays, said Frey, whose husband's family has owned the business for 30 years. The increased traffic has meant more business for other merchants, such as Frey's General Store. More customers stop at her store after they stop at Main Street Market, she said.

Frey said she appreciated the convenience of running down the street to the grocery instead of driving to North Platte on Sunday, which is her only day off.  "It took the whole day," she said.

The town recently held its annual Christmas celebration on Main Street, and this was the first year that someone didn't have to go to North Platte for the apple cider, Frey said.

The store also has an espresso bar.

Stille, the manager, said the response from the town has been "incredible and amazing." He said older residents are especially impressed to have a grocery in their town.

The store offers carryout service and even makes home deliveries to senior citizens. It cuts its own meat and has a smoker that was used to smoke turkeys for Thanksgiving, Stille said.

Stille said the store is preparing to launch a Web site that will allow it to sell its "Sandhills Beef," which is ranch-raised, all natural and local, to customers outside the area.

Stille said he has received support from other business owners in small towns, including a grocer in Malvern, Iowa, who gave advice about the meat department. The Malvern grocery opened in May.

The hope, Stille said, is that the store leads to more new businesses in Stapleton. Which is exactly what a small town needs to remain viable, said McKeone, the banker.

"Rural America is on the rebound," Stille said.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=1208&u_sid=10507644[/embed]

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