The Haven grocery store is dead. After 58 years in the hands of 4 families, the mainstay of the community came to a halting stop last Saturday. Shelves were discounted and cleared. Dark doors lead local passerbys to reflect on the store that once was a symbol of the tight knit town.
Doug Nech and his wife purchased The Haven Foodliner in hopes to keep a convenient grocery store available to the community. Three years ago, the city of Haven voted allowing Dollar General to roll into town with lower prices and an attractive new vibe.
“ Dollar General is the cancer of small town America,” Nech said. After the Dollar General moved into town, Nech mentioned how he had lost around a hundred customers. This loss was enough to take down the local store.
Many have the stereotype that corporate stores such as Dollar General do not give back to the community as local businesses do. According to Dollar General’s website, awards and grants are provided each year to schools and libraries within a 20-mile radius of the store to support literacy programs.
“It comes down to customer loyalty,” said Marci Penner, Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Penner explained that “It is so complex” when you have a small population it stands difficult for some people to shop local. While many locals have inner city jobs, it typically is more convenient to swing by a Walmart or other corporate store on the way home.
This epidemic is spreading quickly through American small towns as stores are dying quickly. “It can truly bring a small town together when they are losing a local store,” said Penner. Ultimately, a cure for this problem lies in the hands of the communities’ shopping habits.