Grocery store backbone of community

“As goes the grocery stores, so goes the small town.”

A similar phrase typically relates to a rural community’s schools. There will be survival as long as children come for education, but when those doors close, likely sooner than later, a ghostly appearance follows.

Perhaps not as obvious to the occasional onlooker, country areas follow the same pattern in relation to their grocery availability.

What has been apparent to us in the past four decades has been brought to light several times again in recent weeks. Although our references are nearby, it is widespread plight.

The small food store at Olsburg is shutting its doors. And, townspeople, some, perhaps many, who most likely have not been loyal patrons, are alarmed. They’ve come together in attempt to keep it going.

Burlingame has been without a grocery store for several years. People there are optimistic one will return and have promised patronage.

A number of small towns are fortunate to still have groceries, although struggling, despite quality merchandise and dedicated operation.

Having grown up in a grocery store, which our parents operated for 33 years until fire destroyed the building, it is a business forever close to our heart and soul.

Our hometown, Council Grove had nine grocery stores, including Buchman’s Grocery, during the 1950s.

Additionally, every small town in the county, Burdick, Delavan, Dunlap, Dwight, White City and Wilsey also had grocery stores, sometimes two or three.

Perhaps there were more, but certainly stores were also close-by just across county lines in all directions. They have disappeared, regardless of community efforts to keep them.

Today, there’s one “super market” in Morris County.

There are those who would argue that’s good, because some counties do not have even that. Why is this? What can one do?

It is a different age. Today’s mobile society will drive 25 miles, or even twice the distance, to shop for groceries.

Product selection and convenience rank of utmost importance in consumer purchasing. Small businesses can’t stock the volume of fresh perishables that modern patrons are always demanding.

Rural grocery stores can only serve with entire community patronage. Small town survival depends on it.

Reminds us of Genesis 43:20: “We came down to buy food.” Thus, Hebrews 10:38: “Anyone who is right thrives on trust. We’ll stay with it and survive.”