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A for sale sign can be seen at the front of Jo’s Market in Clearwater as the community rallies together to keep a grocery store in town.
Listing her business for sale online in September, Joan Allemang has decided to step away after 14 years of dedication. But finding a buyer has been something the store has struggled to see.
Understanding the importance of a grocery store in the small town, many of the community leaders have taken the responsibility to revive the store. Sandy Kester, an agent at Taylor Realty, was contacted to look at various steps to keep the store alive, which led to discussion of a community-ownership option that many surrounding small towns have utilized.
After successfully supporting the Petersburg, Lindsay Holy Family, and Newman Grove grocery stores, the community reached out to Larry Temme of Petersburg.
Leaders said Temme agreed to help the store move into community ownership. With Temme lending a hand to the town, inspections began to determine what steps they would need to take next. After much discussion, one word stuck out more evidently than others — funding.
It was obvious to the community that finding the funds for the project would be the biggest issue they would have to face. But with the small town support, funds have become one of the easiest factors.
The project has seen nearly 100 pledges from community families, and even from those across Nebraska simply donating to the town where their family roots began.
The Clearwater Chamber of Commerce donated a building for the store to move into which can be found on Highway west of the HiWay Mart. This move will give the store the opportunity for more space with a larger, more-accessible location.
With sufficient funds, the project was also able to make purchases of updated shelving, compressors and coolers thanks to even more community donations.
After learning an Omaha grocery store was selling out, the community leaders knew they had to cease the opportunity and began soliciting for more donations.
Organizers said they met on a Sunday and decided to begin calling businesses in the area in hopes to bring in enough funds to fill the new store. By the following Wednesday, the community had raised $55,000, just enough to supply the store with proper shelving, compressors, and coolers.
Community leaders said donations are continuing to roll in as the project sees more and more shareholders, as well as donations being accepted through CORE.