COLERIDGE, NE — There’s food back on the shelves, fresh rolls back on display and smiles back behind the counter.
After being closed for seven months, Ken’s Corner Market in Coleridge is back. And maybe most importantly, jobs, cash and cars are back in downtown.
“It’s coming alive again and it needs to,” manager Paula Dirks said.
It’s back because the community wants it back. It took town meetings and about 70 investors kicking in nearly $200,000 to revive the grocery store. That’s why manager Paula Dirks says it’s important to remember it’s the community’s store.
“This is the people’s store and I want people to remember that,” Dirks said. “Whether they invested, they volunteer their time, or they come here and shop.”
The reopening has made life more convenient for customers who were traveling either 10 miles to Hartington or 12 miles to Laurel when the market was shut down.
“It’s perfect because I get off work, come in here, or I can come in here during the day to get something,” customer Desiree Paulsen said. “It saves me a lot of time.”
“It’s a beautiful store, managed very well,” customer Gail Milander said. “The shelves are full of nice, clean products and it’s just been a great thing to have back.”
Dirks says the store gets its inventory from Cash-Wa and from Gary’s Food Mart in Laurel. They also rely heavily on volunteers to help unload trucks and stock the items.
“We need this small town just like all the other towns need their grocery stores and that’s very important to me,” Dirks said. “I would like to see this continue and keep open, but once again we need those people. It is their store, they need to come here and shop.”
So far they’ve showed up and shopped. Dirks says it’s been a thrill to see what used to be empty streets, fill back up.
“There was cars everywhere and that was an awesome feeling,” Dirks said. “To know that you pull into town and it’s like your town is reborn.”