How Do We Save Rural Grocery Stores?

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Bismarck – With North Dakota’s rural grocery stores in trouble more than ever before, how to save them was the topic of a hearing today at the State Capital.

Monday morning, the North Dakota Commerce Committee heard presentations and testimony from a number of speakers about ways to keep small-town groceries open.

Recent studies have shown that rural grocery stores have dropped by 15-percent over the last 5 years and many North Dakota homes now sit in what’s called a “food-desert”.

Speakers also said rural stores do not have the population base to generate the volume needed to be competitive with urban areas.

Several options were discussed including the possibility of creating redistribution hubs that could do a better job of keeping shelves stocked at a lower cost to the business.

“Rural people work the hardest to keep their grocery store and their school. And they’re working really hard to keep their grocery store right now, they just feel like if they don’t have a grocery store, people will not want to move there and familes will not want to live there”, said Lori Capouch, Rural Development Director, North Dakota Rural Electric & Telecommunications Development Center.

There are currently 98 rural grocers across the state, but 13 of them are in a distressed state and are in danger of shutting down.

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