Small community could lose grocery store again - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Small community could lose grocery store again

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COLESBURG (KWWL) -- An eastern Iowa community may lose its grocery store for the third time in ten years.

Colesburg, with a population of about 400 people, is just one of many small eastern Iowa communities faced with competition from bigger nearby cities.

As the third owner of Colesburg's grocery store -- simply called, "The Store" -- Theresa Amling said she knows she just can't compete with big stores, which is why she has put the building up for sale.

"Even though I get my groceries from the same places as the bigger stores, I have to pay more money because I'm not getting the volume that they're buying from them, so my prices are more," Amling said.

She bought the store about four years ago, soon after Flexsteel laid her off.

"I'm holding my own," she said, "but I'm not really making enough money to get health insurance."

Amling said many customers just stop in for small items.

"They'll come in here, and they'll get pop, and then they'll tell me they're on their way to Fareway or Payless," Amling said. "I just look at them, and I don't know what to say. I look around and think, 'This is a grocery store, too.'"

Gwen Sampson is a regular customer, who shops at the Store about twice a week for essentials.

"Always milk. Maybe some bread," Sampson said.

She said she'd have to drive at least 12 miles to the next grocery store.

"I've seen the town be a busy, busy, busy place, and I have seen different things continually close up," she said.

Colesburg's mayor Rich Sampson, distantly related to shopper Gwen Sampson, said the problem lies partially in the number of Colesburg residents who commute to work.

"The upside: they bring money back to our town, but the downside is, they can also get their groceries and supplies while they're out of town," he said. "I try to tell our people, we can't drive fifteen miles to save 50 cents on a gallon of milk."

He said he'd like to see more people patronizing the local store.

"It's vital to our small town, for sure," he said. "Every small town's going through that."

"I always hate to see the store close. It's just another loss in Colesburg," Gwen Sampson said.

Amling said she plans on keeping the Store open until the building sells, the business stops being profitable or business picks up.

As of Tuesday, Amling said she'd had no nibbles on the sale of the building.

Colesburg also lost its hardware store a few years ago, though an auto body shop will soon be moving into the store's old location.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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