Community buys town's only grocery store to keep it running


Community buys town's only grocery store to keep it running

By Jackie Kennon        

ELGIN, Iowa (KCRG) - When the small town of Elgin in Northeast Iowa was at risk of losing its grocery store, dozens of people got together to stop that from happening.

Valley Fresh Market in Elgin on Thursday, December 5, 2019 (JACKIE KENNON/KCRG).

They decided instead of just hoping that someone would take over the store, they would buy it themselves. As of this week - the community owned, "Valley Fresh Market" is now open.

Elgin is nestled right next to the Turkey River. Rod Marlatt has been the conservation director for Fayette County for 36 years, and lived in Elgin for 37 years.

"It's kind of unique situation there to have that sort of recreational opportunity right next to a community,” Marlatt said. “They kind of feed off of each other."

Nature helped inspire Dotzy's Restaurant owner, Michael Ellison, to open up his business in Elgin.

"I just always have loved Northeast Iowa,” Ellison said. “I used to come up here camping and fishing as a kid."

Ellison is now also the Valley Fresh Market manager. Dotzy’s opened up alongside community businesses like Torkelson Motors, which has been open in Elgin for 93 years.

"We are the oldest business in Elgin by a long ways, and we're one of the older Chrysler dealers in the nation, still same family owned,” Torkelson said.

On the same street, the Valley Fresh Market opened just this week.

"A lot of us are learning stuff about a grocery store that we never thought we would ever learn about a grocery store,” said Marlatt.

It's taken six months of planning for the Main Street Elgin Investors LLC to get the doors open and cash registers running.

"Grocery stores in small towns are so important,” Ellison said. “There's so many people in this community that, especially in the winter months, it is a chore for them to drive four miles down the road to go somewhere."

Proving the power of a small town, staying hungry for progress.

"When 60 people were willing to put up money for something like this project, you know that people believe in Elgin, and I do too,” Torkelson said.

The store is open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.