Iowa Community Raises over $200K to Save Its Only Grocery Store

A rural grocery store in Jewell, Iowa, is getting a second chance thanks to community members’ hard work and determination.

When grocer Nick Graham announced in January that he would be closing up the store that was a community staple, his neighbors were saddened, according to the Ames Tribune.

“This was my first job when I was 15, when it was Anderson’s Meat and Grocery,” said Stanhope native Garren Zanker.

However, he and other neighbors who also loved the market were not about to let the only grocery store in town vanish without a fight, so they started a group to raise money to save it and turn it into a community-owned business.

“The group, which consisted of a five-member board of directors and volunteers, created Jewell Market LLC, and started selling shares for $400,” the Tribune article noted. “They also began reaching out to community members for donations and hosting fundraising events every Sunday.”

Board member Mischelle Hardy said losing the market was out of the question because “having a grocery store is a huge part of people moving into the community.”

To their surprise, the group raised over $233,000 thanks to shares and donations, according to WDSU.

Later, board members offered Zanker a full-time job as its manager and also hired two full-time employees, four part-time workers, and several high school students.

Along with volunteers, Zanker and his crew put up a new sign, painted the interior, and updated the building’s electricity.

Thursday, the store shared photos of its newly painted red, white, and blue facade:

“There is no way we can have Walmart or Hy-Vee’s selection, that’s just not going to happen,” said Zanker.

“But if we have the essentials and take care of the (community’s) fresh produce and fresh meat, then at least they know they can rely on us for a dinner,” he concluded.

The Jewell Market is scheduled to reopen on July 1.

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