Students and teachers from Cody-Kilgore.
Community owned stores for rural Nebraska
The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center has been involved in a number of development projects across Nebraska focused on the
conversion or start up of community owned stores in rural towns. Many of these projects are helping to maintain an essential service for the community, or to re-establish an essential service that the community has lost.
Cody-Kilgore Cooperative Grocery store
Students of Cody-Kilgore Jr/Sr High School, with assistance from the Center for Rural Affairs, began research 2 years ago, into the business development processes of a cooperatively-owned grocery store in Cody. NCDC was asked to participate and provide expertise to the potential project of re-establishing a grocery store in this small rural town.
The school is interested in entrepreneurship, and is planning the grocery store as end goal. The final plan is to create a community-owned grocery store utilizing a formal agreement with the Jr/Sr high schools allowing them to use the store as a learning laboratory. The town of Cody received a grant to build a straw bale building to house the grocery store and incubator.
After the owners of the Harrison grocery store transitioned out of ownership and no one person(s) seemed interested in purchasing the store, NCDC, in conjunction with the local Extension office, assisted with facilitating a community meeting of more than 50 Harrison residents. The concerned group of citizens looked at community ownership options and ended the meeting by selecting a steering committee to conduct a confidential analysis of the financials of the store. Ultimately, this activity stirred the needed interest in the store leading a local family into buying and running the store.
When the small town of Cambridge was faced with the closing of their Duckwalls variety store, NCDC met with community leaders and presented the basics of the cooperative business model as it pertains to community ownership of a retail store in a rural town. The steering committee held a community meeting to outline the options available to the community, formed an LLC, and are now gathering funds to reopen the store as a community-owned entity.
After the only grocery store in Potter closed in February 2011 community leaders contacted NCDC for assistance in forming a steering committee to study community ownership of the store. A committee has been formed, has made initial inroads into answering questions of feasibility, and has reported their findings to a town hall meeting. Current plans are to own and operate the store as a community-owned facility along with partnering with a neighboring town grocery who will act as a grocery supplier.
Since the town of Mitchell lost its grocery store a number of residents have missed the convenience of a local store, as well as, felt the negative impact an empty, downtown storefront has on the community. NCDC has become involved in the planning process to help lead the project development as a potential community owned cooperative business. A group of community members are envisioning the development of several opportunities including: a grocery store, an artisan coop retail location, a business incubator and a student entrepreneurial center. The immediate focus of the committee is the re-establishment of the grocery store as the anchor for the other three endeavors.
Our Community Clothing Inc.
In the past two years several residents in Sidney started looking into possible store fronts for the Sidney downtown area in order to provide convenience and economic stability. A group of potential business owners formed and started researched business ideas, including a clothing store, which eventually became the final business proposal. NCDC has facilitated the development of a corporation with bylaws that include community ownership approach to the business. OCCI is currently in the process of a membership drive, which began in March of 2011, and plan to open the store by fall 2011.