Des Moines Iowa Grocery Stores

Des Moines Iowa Grocery Stores

Des Moines Iowa Grocery Stores – A Dollar General store opened in Manson in 2017, serving food and household goods to local residents. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

In his washed-out blue shirt and button-down shirt, Dave Anderson, the mayor of Manson, stood on the stage of the high school auditorium and delivered his speech to 1,500 city residents: Bring back the local grocery store. . The future of the city depends on him.

Des Moines Iowa Grocery Stores

“I think the local grocery store is at the heart of the city,” Anderson said during a town hall in January. “It’s hard to develop a community without a grocery store.”

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Like other rural areas of the country, Manson is caught in the paradox of food production but a food desert.

Anderson visited Hy-Vee, Fairway and Quick Star. He told her Manson is very close to Fort Dodge, a city of 24,000 with amenities like Walmart and Target just 20 miles away.

Manson Mayor Dave Anderson spent more than an hour answering questions from local residents about the opening of a co-op grocery store at a January town meeting. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

However, what the city achieved in 2017 was broad dollars. A bright, yellow sign marks the entrance to town from the 7 Freeway.

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The store has everything from movies to hammers; Bulbs and heat wheels. There is ham, cheese, milk and bread, but no sign of fruit or vegetables.

Some residents at City Hall have questioned whether the presence of Dollar General, a multi-million dollar corporation, and its rapid move to rural areas is responsible for the demise of their local store.

The answer isn’t clear, but “we’re going to move forward because we can’t wait to see what happens,” Anderson said.

However, in the months since the town hall opened, the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 has completely changed the way people shop for food.

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Impulse purchases are sweeping the shelves of supermarkets in major cities. Communities like Manson are seeing the tables turn — people from big cities are moving to small towns to find toilet paper at local hardware stores.

Efforts to build new stores are currently on hold as people try to find and pay for food to survive in tough economic times.

“The rural population is more or less the same,” Anderson said. “There was no grocery store, so they organized it six or eight months ago.”

Dollar General opened its first store in Iowa in 1988. As of 2015, the company has 175 Iowa stores. The number of stores has increased by 50% in the last five years.

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Today, Dollar General operates 260 stores in the state, with eight more under construction this year. About 1,900 people work in the stores, said Crystal Ghassemi, a spokeswoman for Dollar General.

A dollar store opened in Manson in 2017, offering food and household goods to town residents. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Nationally, the majority of Dollar General stores are located in small communities, making Iowa a prime state for business expansion. Ghassemi said that while the company operates 15,000 stores nationwide, 70% of them are in communities with fewer than 20,000 people.

Make no mistake—the company doesn’t want its stores to be small-town supermarkets. Dollar General’s business model is aimed at customers who want to get a few items like bread or toilet paper quickly — not stock the fridge.

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“We have a lot of food, but it’s not enough to help customers fill up, not to fill up,” Ghassemi said. “When you come into our stores, compared to a traditional grocery store, there’s a selection and fewer items.”

But as Dollar General has taken hold in Iowa, independent rural grocers have declined, according to the Iowa Grocery Industry Association.

A 2019 study by Inmar Intelligence found that the majority of grocery shopping still takes place at the traditional supermarket, but these sales are declining due to competition from online stores, wholesalers, dollar stores and convenience stores.

In 1988, 90% of consumers were traditional fashion stores in the grocery and consumer goods market. It fell to 44% in 2017 as supermarket competition intensified.

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But Dollar General’s presence doesn’t help the situation, said Joseph Welsh, a marketing consultant in Nevada.

During the recession, Dollar General was one of the fastest-growing companies, increasing its sales and footprint in small rural areas. In its December 2019 fourth quarter report, Tara General reported a nearly 9% increase in net sales and an 11% increase in operating income.

Rural areas are good places for a company to set up shop, Welsh said. Low-density areas face economic hardship and find more ways to stretch the dollar.

“For a while, everybody thought about the dollar scheme,” Welsh said. “They lost a lot because they had a lot of market share. They were a strong competitor.”

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A 2018 study by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach found that while recent agricultural economic losses have worsened over a five-year period, economic downturns in industries such as manufacturing and manufacturing have hit rural areas hardest.

Job availability and income have slowed in recent years in populations with fewer than 10,000 residents, according to an Iowa State study. Instead, jobs and incomes are rising in urban areas — reflecting the growing economic gap between rural and urban Iowans.

Ghassemi stressed that Dollar General is not the reason local grocery stores are closing. Instead, he points to the divide between urban and rural areas, saying many buyers prefer to buy homes in areas where they work and play.

Rockwell City Mayor Phil Henlen did not know if Dollar General was the reason the city of 2,000 people lost its last South Side grocery store in December 2019. Nick Graham worked for the same owner who closed Manson’s last hero store. Also in Rockwell City.

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The equipment is old and expensive. The store’s management was highly skeptical, Henlen said. But there are bigger, bigger problems with the city’s changes that Henlen doesn’t know how to fix.

He remembers three grocery stores, six gas stations, two hardware stores and a men’s clothing store in town during his ten-year stay. “But most of my stories are lost,” Henlen said.

Serves a jail and county courthouse. But he sees kids who grew up in the city moving to cities like Ankeny or West Des Moines, where there’s a lot of work, a lot of different places.

When he looks into his own wallet, Henlen’s money doesn’t look like it did 20 years ago. “Chances are, you can’t argue with that,” Henlen said.

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The increased vibrancy and population loss of the town of 2,000 has changed the retail landscape. Not only do employers need to fill their open jobs, they also need income to run a business.

In 2000, the population of Calhoun County was 11,115, according to the Iowa Data Center. It was down nearly 13% to 9,699.

Purchasing power has shifted to larger cities like nearby Fort Dodge, where many people from smaller towns work. There are more convenient options like Hy-Vee or Walmart.

With only one Dollar General left in the city, Henlen worries about how the elderly who can’t drive will make ends meet. Some good Samaritans deliver food to their homes, but he is trying to attract a business he would like to open in the city.

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The entire parking lot at Manson High School looked more like a crowd for a baseball game than a weekday grocery store party.

Residents gathered in their Carhartt jackets and ski hats and packed the high school campus to question their mayor and local economists about the feasibility of bringing back the mall.

In January, Manson residents gathered on the town’s high school campus to discuss feedback on a co-op grocery store. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

“Everybody in this room has to work there,” Anderson said. “The idea behind it is that society will put money into it.”

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Most of the equipment in the store has power on it, Anderson said. Start from scratch and buy new equipment. But by being designated as a nonprofit, city staff can apply for funding to help run the organization.

But it can’t be the same, said Jill Heisterkamp, ​​Calhoun County economic development director.

With outside pressures from the likes of Dollar General, Amazon and Hy-Vee, it needs to offer more unique goods and products — especially when it can’t compete with the big companies’ prices.

Now with Covid-19, time to change and adapt to customer needs is more important than ever, he said.

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Hesterkamp says the dollar general is not going fast and is actually a market that should be in a recession. area

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