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Merrick County village considering co-op grocery store

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

CLARKS, Neb. (AP) — Residents of a Merrick County village that lost its last local grocery in 2015 are considering establishing a co-op store.

An informational meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 22 at the old grocery store in Clarks. The goal: Sell $175,000 in shares for the project to continue.

After a previous grocery closed in 2011, local investors bought the Clarks building and opened Len and Jo’s Supermarket. It went out of business in 2015. Since then, residents have been patronizing the local convenience store or driving 10 miles to the nearest supermarket in Central City.

U.S. Census figures show more than one-third of rural counties have lower population now than in 1930. In addition to fewer potential customers, businesses in rural areas face stiff competition from online shopping and from urban chain stores offering big savings for those willing to drive several miles away.

Charles Fluharty, who heads the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Iowa, told The Associated Press late last year that he’s seen an increase in rural neighbors joining to save local spots. Some create cooperatives or seek government and private grants.

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