Apr 11, 2022
Joelle Lizer and Tricia Harrison pose in front of an end cap at Market On Market in Gowrie. Community-owned grocery stores like Gowrie’s need the community’s continued support in order to remain open, even during times of high prices and supply chain shortages.
As prices increase at the supermarket, small community-owned grocery stores are not only bidding to compete for consumers’ dollars, but also for future viability.
Market On Market, the community-owned and operated grocery store in Gowrie, employs 10 staff who also live and work in the community.
“We’re not owned by a person,” said Market On Market Manager Matt Nahnsen. “We’re owned by the community — your neighbors, your friends. When you think about it, when you shop here, you’re not helping corporate bigwigs, you’re helping your friends out.”
The Dayton Community Grocery store, which is also community owned and operated, also encourages residents to keep their grocery dollars local by shopping in the Main Street store.
“We have just about everything people need,” said Pam Ruggles, manager of Dayton Community Grocery. “Right now our prices are lower than our big competitors for things like cheese, eggs, and milk. It only makes sense for people’s budget to shop locally when we can offer lower prices and you’re not paying high gas prices to get to town.”
Mary Hainzinger and Pam Ruggles pose in front of products on sale at the Dayton Community Grocery store. The Dayton store is posting competitive sale prices to their Facebook page in an effort to encourage residents to shop locally at prices that are lower than big box stores.
In fact, the 12 staff members at Dayton Community Grocery Store have started posting their best and comparable product offers to the store’s Facebook page, especially noting when the store is able to beat big box store prices with the hope that people will buy locally.
“We know our customers,” said Mary Hainzinger, a staff member at Dayton Community Grocery. “We know them by first name. We see them around town. We want to be the place that they come for their groceries because we can help them to stay within their budget. That’s important to us.”
Rich Dutcher, a board member for the Dayton Community Grocery, noted that those lower prices are appealing to customers, but they’re only possible because the small, local stores aren’t able to buy in mass quantities like the large corporations.
“We are seeing right now that some of our prices are lower than the bigger stores in Fort Dodge or Ames,” said Dutcher. “It’s honestly because we’re behind in purchasing because as a small grocery store we aren’t able to buy like the big stores. But when we are able to, we try to share with the Gowrie and Stratford stores and they do with us, too. We all try to help one another out.”
The three stores are all community owned and rely on local grocery dollars to sustain them. Nahnsen noted that his goal for Market On Market is to have $3,300 every day in sales, although that can be difficult when competing with large supermarkets and increased cost.
“Every little penny counts at a community store,” said Nahnsen.
“We understand that it’s simpler and easier when you work in Fort Dodge or Ames to just buy your groceries there,” added Dutcher. “If people would set aside $50 a month to spend at a community owned grocery store, that’s a big financial shot in the arm for us. Or if on weekends instead of driving to town you decide to buy your milk or pizza or little things here or there from us, that’s a big and important way to support our stores that will help to keep them open.”
Both the Gowrie and Dayton stores offer name brand and generic brand goods as well as locally grown produce and products along with pre-made meals for reheating and restaurant take-out style options.
“We have Bubba-Q available on weekends,” said Hainzinger. “He offers a different meal every weekend and people come in, walk through the store, buy a meal, and then most of the time will purchase other items, too. That really helps us.”
The Dayton Grocery store’s weekend offerings range from Juicy Lucy sandwich combos to smoked pork loin, cheeseburgers with molten cheese inside, and even Memphis style spaghetti.
“Tad’s meals are really well liked,” said Ruggles. “There are many times that he sells out on weekends.”
Market On Market also offers pre-made meals as well as lunch time take-and-go options like cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and taco salads.
“We know that people don’t always have the time to cook right now,” said Nahnsen. “So we try to give options that people can come in, pick up a meal, and go and do whatever they have going on for the day. We want to serve our community in ways that meet their needs and are positive.”
Nahnsen also noted that his goal for Market On Market is not only to help the Gowrie community with grocery options, but especially to help those who are on a budget.
“Anytime anyone in the community comes in and spends their money here, I want to make sure they’re getting their best value,” said Nahnsen. “I don’t always have the higher end things that people want, but the penny pinchers, the people that are on a budget and know they only have so much for groceries, we have the stuff that will help them and make their budget. If there’s something that you can only get in town, let me know and I’ll see if I can bring it in.”
Ruggles and Hainzinger also noted that they want to provide the best value for residents and to help find products if they aren’t on the store shelves.
“Every penny counts,” said Ruggles. “And every person who shops in this store counts, too. I want people to be happy with their purchases, with the fact that we are helping them, helping our friends and family members to stay on budget and doing it locally, and in doing their shopping at a community owned grocery store, they’re also helping us to stay open for months and years to come, too.”
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Apr 11, 2022