News Features

Rural Grocery Store Initiative Continues to Move Forward

K-State Engagement E-News, December 2007 (PDF)

by David Procter

CECD receives a grant from the USDA for the grocery store project.

U.S.D.A. Rural Development Director Chuck Banks awards CECD a grant for the grocery store project.

From left to right: Dan Kahl, Daryl Buchholz, Chuck Banks, David Procter, Tom Hemmer and Ron Wilson.

Confronting issues of business development, public health and community sustainability, CECD is partnering with the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, the K-State Department of Marketing, the K-State Department of Ag Economics and rural grocery stores across the state to identify and develop models to sustain retail sources of food for rural Kansas citizens.

The Center for Engagement and Community Development and its partners have identified nearly 200 grocery stores in rural towns across Kansas with populations less than 2,000 and are beginning a much-needed conversation with these rural Kansas grocers.

Through this initiative, CECD seeks to create new models for rural business development and sustainability and plans to address specific questions such as:

  • How can we increase local customer loyalty?
  • How can rural business best compete with large chain stores?
  • What are the best strategies for dealing with minimum buying requirements?
  • Are there more effective business models for rural grocery stores?
  • Are there alternative models of distribution for getting products to rural business owners?

The specific tasks with this initiative include:

  • Creation of a rural grocery web site for sharing information with one another. The web address is: www.ruralgrocery.org
  • Development of two marketing surveys: (1) a survey of customers needs and wishes and (2) a rural grocer survey. These surveys will be distributed in January 2008.
  • Creation of a list of rural grocer best practices, and
  • Organizing a rural grocery summit for early summer, 2008.

Interest in this initiative is high. In addition to grocery stores, business leaders, and food distributors from across Kansas, CECD has also had requests for help from store owners in Arizona, North Dakota, Alabama, and Maine. If you would like to be included in this conversation or would like to talk about rural business development retention, please contact CECD.