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Jewell grocery store to close today

JEWELL – More than 100 Jewell-area residents met Saturday afternoon to discuss how to best proceed in keeping the grocery store open in their community. Like several other towns in the area, Jewell (population 1,215 at the 2010 census) will soon lose its only grocery store.

The Jewell store is scheduled to close today.

A board of directors has already been working toward the purchase of the current grocery store and to organize the future Jewell Market LLC. Shares in the new store are available at $400 each, with 62 shares sold so far totaling $24,800.

In order to reopen as a new store, 550 shares will need to be purchased to get an inventory, pay the staff and utilities, and have a cushion for other expenses. The ultimate goal is to raise $220,000.

Craig Anderson owned and operated the store as Anderson Market for 27 years before he sold the business to the Heartland Market chain in 2018. Anderson still owns the building. Heartland Market owned a handful of grocery stores in other small Iowa towns. Most of them were closed in 2019.

“We want to be sure that everyone knows what’s going on,” Garren Zanker told Saturday’s crowd. “We all have to work together, or this won’t work.”

Zanker is chairman of the five-member board of directors.

Jewell. . . A Main Street Community, directed by Sarah Thompson, has been closely involved with the board since it was established last fall.

“I’ve worked with ISU Extension and the Small Business Association to help us figure out what we can do,” Thompson said Saturday.

Those at Saturday’s meeting brought with them many questions about how to keep a grocery store in their community, and there was plenty of enthusiasm in the crowd to do what’s needed. Zanker said lots of people have inquired about volunteering to help reach the goal.

Several in the crowd commented that if the funds are raised to re-open the store, there has to be a commitment to patronize the store, or it ultimately won’t succeed in spite of the efforts to save it.

Donations of any amount are welcome for the project, in addition to selling shares.

As Zanker put it, “You’re investing in your town.”

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