Rural grocery stores are anchor businesses in communities of 2,500 or fewer residents that provide a full range of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable foods. When rural grocery stores go out of business, they are generally difficult to reopen, impacting the well-being of the surrounding community. While working with communities across Greater Minnesota, the University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) observed that the needs of rural grocery stores were not adequately identified and supported. To gain a deeper understanding about this sector, RSDP worked with the UMN Center for Survey Research to conduct a statewide survey of rural grocers between May and October 2019. This survey builds on a 2015 Rural Grocery Survey also administered by RSDP, and it was designed to better understand rural grocers’ business conditions and gather information on store characteristics, competition, locally grown food, business motivations, collaborative relationships, and infrastructure.
The survey was mailed to 250 identified grocery stores in communities with 2,500 or fewer residents. Of that, 15 were determined to be ineligible due to closure or discontinuation of grocery service. Of the 235 eligible grocery stores, completed surveys were received from 129 for a response rate of 55%. The data collected is assembled into four key themes that emerged from the survey: 1) Stores as businesses and community anchors, 2) Competition for food dollars, 3) Grocering local food, and 4) Stores as food system innovators.
University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships; Minnesota Department of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant (#2017-68006-26345), and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.
Olive, Ren; Draeger, Kathryn; Kim, Hye-Young; Hanawa Peterson, Hikaru; Jarvi, Monica; Park, Dojin; Jorgenson, Alma.
2019-2020 Minnesota Rural Grocery Survey Report.
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