City of Erie considers purchasing grocery store

Owners ask city to run store instead of closing

For the last 15 years, running Stub’s Market in Erie has been a labor of love.

“We know a lot of our customers by first name, we visit with most of them,” says Shirlene Mahurin, co-owner of the store.

Shirlene and her husband David bought the store in 2004, had to rebuild it in 2007 after it flooded, and now they are looking to sell.

“We’ll miss the people, and I’ll miss the work, explains Mahurin. “I do enjoy what I do, but we just feel that it’s time that maybe someone fresher came in.”

They tried to sell it but didn’t have much luck. So they went to the city of Erie to see if they want to buy it.

“Erie does need a grocery store. We think that was the best option,” says Mahurin.

The Economic Development Committee held the first of many meetings on Thursday to try and decide exactly how the city should move forward.

They are looking into different low and zero-interest loans and looking at what other cities that run their own grocery store do.

One of them was Caney, Kansas, which will run their store as a public utility.

“There aren’t many people out there that want to come to a small town and buy a grocery store. And there isn’t a whole lot of profit, explains Linda Weidert, who serves on the Erie City Council. “If we can operate it as a public utility and make it pay for itself, I think it’s very feasible.”

Right now, they are looking at the financial feasibility of owning the store and trying to devise the best way to get the public’s opinion.

“Some ideas have been possibly door to door surveys, some things on social media to ask questions, to find out if the citizens are supportive of this,” says Erie City Clerk Cindy Lero.

Some residents we talked to seem to have mixed feelings on the idea of the city running the store.

But, most of them agree that the city needs to have a grocery store.

“We have a lot of elderly people here that can’t go out of town. We just need one bad,” says Erie Resident Patricia Olson.

The Economic Development Committee plans to hold town hall meetings before a decision is made.

And the city council is considering putting the decision to a vote with a special election.

They don’t know when either of those would be, but there is another Economic Development Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, the 16th, at 8:30 am.

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