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‘Together we can do it’

By Staff | Jun 30, 2013

The future of a small town relies on the support of its community.

So, one group in Kiester will now enlist help from residents in order to reopen the grocery store and rename it Kiester Market.

After the store closed last July, several residents decided to step up and form an organizing board.

They held an informational meeting for the community on June 26 at Kee Theater, where community members could learn more about the process of reopening the grocery store as a for-profit community co-operative.

And they are confident the residents of Kiester can pull together and make it happen.

Their motto to start the meeting was, “We’ve done it before, we can do it again,”?reminding the audience that it was the community that kept the old school in Kiester standing and brought new life back into the Kee Theatre.

The organizing board consists of seven members and includes resident Judy Meyer who feels it is important to channel that same support and find a way to keep the grocery store in town.

“This is a vital piece of Kiester’s future,”? she says. “Having a grocery store in town is going to dictate how long older people can live here and how many people will want to buy houses and move to Kiester.”

The organizing board first met in October and since then has researched and gathered information on how they could reopen the grocery store as a co-op.

“It will take $90,000 to open the store and put it in good financial shape,”?Meyer says.

She adds that with the financial support from the community, they would be in better shape to receive loans.

After all the research, the group was ready to share their plans with the community.

“We trust that the people in the community will be able to see how important this is,”?she says.

The group was warned that the process to research and begin to reopen the grocery store would take about a year and it has.

Meyer was sure most people in the community were wondering when action would be taken.

“It took us about a year, so we are actually right on track,”?she says. “We didn’t dream it would take so long, though.”

Forms were distributed after the meeting for community members to fill out in order to make a pledge toward the project. They were turned in either after the meeting that evening or sent in the mail.

At this point the pledge forms will be used to gauge the amount of community support they could have. The board will not actually be taking donations or shares.

“Once we know that we have the community support we can move forward,” Meyer says.

After receiving enough pledge forms, then the process can continue to the next step of forming a board of directors.

“The members of that new board will be voted on by the people who buy shares in the co-op,” Meyer explains.

The organizing board hopes to collect most of the pledges within a month, then continue with the new board which will first consist of at least two members of the current organizing board. The board of directors will operate on a rotating basis and be voted on by shareholders.

“We have been so grateful for the support of the community so far,” Meyer adds.

The organizing board has also received helpful advice and guidance from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).

In fact, John Katz, a representative of SMIF?led the community meeting last Wednesday.

“SMIF?has given us so much help,” Meyer says.

Katz reminded audience members that the closure of the grocery store was due to internal problems.

“It wasn’t a lack or sales of community support,”?Katz says. “So that won’t be the issue.”

For community members that were unable to attend the information meeting held last Wednesday, there will be a second opportunity. That meeting will take place at Kee Theatre on Tuesday, July 9.