Keeping it in the community

LAKE BENTON – Lake Benton’s only grocery store will be staying open for business but with a change of ownership later this month. After Labor Day weekend, Steve’s Affiliated Foods will become Lake Benton Grocery. New owners Al and Tami Trigg said the decision to buy the store was one they made with the community in mind.

“We did not want to see it close,” said Al Trigg. He and his wife are both Lake Benton residents and knew how important it was to keep a grocery store in town.

“It was good for us and good for the community,” said Steve Nordmeyer, one of the current store owners. The grocery store is an important amenity, especially for elderly Lake Benton residents. Steve’s Affiliated features both a meat department and bakery, as well as grocery deliveries for local seniors.

“Everyone’s pretty happy right now,” Nordmeyer said of the purchase.

Steve and Kathy Nordmeyer have been the owner-operators of the grocery store since 1989. Steve Nordmeyer said the store had been for sale for the past two years, as he and Kathy got closer to retirement. Nordmeyer planned to close the store at the end of August. During the past several months, the Lake Benton Economic Development Authority and local community members had looked at the possibility of starting an ownership group for the store, but Al Trigg said that option would have taken some time.

“Our thought was to keep the store open. It’s more for the community,” Trigg said. Even so, buying the store was a big decision for the Triggs.

“We talked it over for a while,” he said.

Al Trigg said he and Tami don’t plan to be the sole operators of the store, as they already have other work.

“I have a construction business, and my wife is an R.N.,” he said. “We needed good help behind us.” He said the store’s current employees have agreed to stay on, with Gloria Lichtsinn as the store manager. The Triggs are also learning about the store’s specialty services to help out with those.

“We are in training to get a feel for the whole business,” Trigg said. For him, that’s meant early mornings learning how to run the meat department and even doing some work on the freezer. Meanwhile, Tami is learning how to run the bakery.

Lake Benton Grocery will continue to make grocery deliveries for seniors, Al Trigg said. The Triggs hope to make some changes to the store as they move ahead, like adding new scanners or revamping the produce section.

“There will be some changes, but we don’t know all of them yet,” Al Trigg said. When construction work slows over the winter, he will have more time to focus on the grocery store.

The Affiliated Foods store will officially change hands on Sept. 2. Both Nordmeyer and Trigg emphasized that the grocery store will need community support if it is to survive.

“We definitely need the community’s support to keep this vital,” Trigg said.

However, Nordmeyer said so far there’s been strong positive feedback for keeping the grocery store open.

“I think they’re going to have a lot of support from people,” Nordmeyer said.