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As a community-owned grocery store, Star Grocery fills a niche in New Leipzig by keeping staples stocked on the shelves.
Hectic families find a minute to stop for a gallon of milk, retirees fill their carts without the extra expense of gas to drive further, & the New Leipzig senior meals program relies on local products.
The grocery store itself is a Main Street staple, so when residents were faced with the prospect of losing their community’s grocery store, the New Leipzig Job Development Authority (NLJDA) purchased Star Grocery in 2005 when the existing store closed & no private buyer stepped forward.
That’s when Star Grocery became one of a handful in North Dakota operated by an economic development group rather than as a private entity, bringing with it a mission statement different than most businesses.
Volunteers serve on the nonprofit, seven-member board of directors of the NLJDA, operating the store with hopes that it would eventually be sold into the private sector. Similarly, the NLJDA owned the former school in New Leipzig before selling it to the private sector to help expand the business community.
For a time, Star Grocery was the local morning coffee stop, a role the board of directors gladly shifted to the newest business nestled on Main Street, the Leipziger Cafe, where locals can gather for coffee, sample fresh bakery items, or eat breakfast or lunch.
The NLJDA board of directors oversees operation of Star Grocery, employing management & staff and steering store policy. As a local economic development group, one of the NLJDA’s mission is to provide groceries to local residents without competing with other local businesses.
So, when store management proposed implementing a deli at the grocery store, the board of directors pointed to the neighboring privately owned business across the street & vetoed the idea.
That decision created a stir of controversy in the community as the deli was pursued without the board’s blessing & the store’s management & staff eventually resigned.
“The general purpose of the NLJDA is to enhance job growth, job retention & in some cases own a business,” explains NLJDA President Mark Stelter. “The NLJDA accomplishes these goals with gap financing which typically involves low-interest loans or interest buydowns to private sector businesses.”
The NLJDA is an entity of the city of New Leipzig, but does not receive funding from property tax funds, although the city has provided some funding to the NLJDA in the past.
NLJDA board members include Grant Daniels, Nancy Grade, Shirley Gruebele, Jack Hertz, Doris Iszler, Floyd Roehl & Mark Stelter.
As the NLJDA continues to operate the store, it will also be transitioning to new management & staff and will continue to strive to provide the basic grocery needs of the area.
“We are doing our best not to close the store at any time during this transition or any time after that,” Stelter says.
If misinformation or inaccurate information about the store’s policies or future is being circulated, Stelter encourages residents to contact the NLJDA board to verify any information.
“We hope you will continue to support Star Grocery, your grocery store & we will try to give you a smiling face, the product you need & good service,” he says. “Please give us your suggestions on product to carry in the store & we welcome any suggestions, comments or concerns you may have. We invite all of our former patrons to come & give us a chance to serve your needs.
We appreciate your continued support & patronage as we bring Star Grocery back to life.”
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