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A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Rural grocery stores

Journalism and Digital Media students in five classes at the A.Q. Miller School, under the direction of professors Bonnie Bressers, Gloria Freeland, Kelly Furnas, Ginger Loggins and Andy Nelson, spent spring of 2011 developing multimedia content designed to tell an important story: Rural grocery stores are integral to the health and well-being of small Kansas communities.

Partnering with K-State's Center for Engagement and Community Development's Rural Grocery Initiative, which began in 2007, the students visited more than a dozen towns and cities in Kansas and Missouri to explore the challenges faced both by rural grocery-store owners and by communities that lack access to a variety of reasonably priced, healthful foods. The students learned that the issues surrounding food access and community sustainability in Kansas mirror the significant challenges faced by rural areas nationwide.

This website is the result of the students' efforts.

For more information contact Bonnie Bressers at bressers@k-state.edu or call (785) 532-3956.

Alma Food Mart

Inside the walls of the Alma Food Mart, customers can witness the state that some rural grocery stores in Kansas are in today. From barren walls to large gaps of products on the worn-out shelves, the store seems to be a mere shell of a once thriving business. — By Deme Kopulos

Outside of the Bulldog Express, front of the store.  Bulldog Express of Leeton, Mo.

On their drive through Leeton, Mo., population 619, on their way to the Lake of the Ozarks or the university in Warrensburg, passersby turn onto Missouri Route 13 at the blinking red stoplight to see a white ramshackle building on the corner. They might be able to make out the fading letters to the word "grocery" on the storefront, and during certain hours of the day, they might see a veteran selling garden windmills out of his pickup truck in the lot. — By Callie Williams and Brittany Stevens

Scott's Hometown Foods of Lindsborg

As businesses around town begin to close for the day and citizens head home after a long day at work, Scott's Hometown Foods in Lindsborg, Kan., becomes a hotspot for the people of this small Swedish town. — By Austin Anderson

Garden of Eden of Little River

Located in Little River, Kan., the Garden of Eden, Heavenly Meats and Groceries strives to be integral to its community. "We said 'This is your store. What do you want us to put on your shelves?'" Debra Nelson, part owner of Garden of Eden, said. — By Alex Lord

Doug's Hometown Foods of Lyons

Small towns dot the Midwest, establishing a lifeline for local farmers and agriculture companies that provide a wide variety of goods to the rest of the country. A well-stocked grocery store could, arguably, be at the top of the list of what these towns need to survive, and nobody understands that better than Doug Shepherd, the owner of Doug's Hometown Foods in Lyons, Kan. — By Casey Dwyer

Ray's Apple Market of Manhattan

Anita Nittler can usually spot new shoppers at the 6th Street location of Ray's Apple Market in Manhattan, Kan. For this store manager, the giveaway is a person's reaction to the customer service and friendly atmosphere. — By Ashley Dunkak and Bethany Sanderson

The 8,000 square foot building which houses Carlson’s leaves plenty of room for hundreds of items including local produce, camping necessities, and full meat case.Carlson's Grocery of Marion

The candy bucket hidden under the cash register holds the long-awaited reward for a child's good behavior in the grocery store. Carlson's Grocery, of Marion, Kan., has the same welcoming, community feel that people remember from their childhoods. As part owner, Greg Carlson, often stops to ask how patrons are faring. The friendly atmosphere is just one encouragement Carlson's Grocery offers for customers to continue to buy locally. — By Nellie Hill

D&B Market of Montezuma

"Boy, if that building could talk, there would sure be a lot of stories," Irvin "Beefy" Marrs said of the building his wife's family has owned for four generations and nearly 100 years of history. — By Marisa Love

Overbrook's grocery storeO'Bryhim's Thriftway in Overbrook

Carrying on his grandfather and namesake's legacy hasn't always been easy for grocery store owner Cliff O'Bryhim, owner of O'Bryhim's Thriftway in Overbrook, Kan. — By Shaley Van Loenen and Colleen Quinn

Big B's Thriftway of Seneca

Although Big B's Thriftway is a small, rural grocery store compared with its competing stores — Ray's Apple Market, Wal-Mart and Pomida — the store keeps local customers by staying involved with the community, offering competitive prices and developing close relationships with the staff and customers. — By Chelsea Cooley, Brooke Campbell, Emily Rost, Claire Hieger, Lyndsey Webb

St. Paul Supermarket

St. Paul, Kan., is as unique of a community as they come. In a town that contains more than 50 small businesses, many of the residents rely on the local grocery store for many of their needs. But the grocery store relies on the community almost as much as the community relies on it. — By Glendolyn Neely and Greg Peterson

Eastside/Westside Market of Manhattan

"Hello! This is Terry. I am good, how are you?" Terry Olson said, answering her cell phone for the third time. As the owner of two fresh produce and garden supply stores, Olson is always busy. — By Chelsea Matticks


People's Grocery of Manhattan

While many small and independently run grocery stores have had trouble staying profitable because of the rise of chain grocery stores and the recession, People's Grocery in Manhattan, Kan., is an exception. — By Abbey Heikes

Downtown Farmers' Market of Manhattan

There's little need for fancy commercials or advertising circulars: At the Downtown Farmers' Market in Manhattan, Kan., the food and the farmers speak for themselves. — By Tyler Scott, Meredith Lindsey and Amanda Hinkley


Community Mercantile of Lawrence

Community Mercantile, an independent whole foods grocery store in Lawrence, Kan., is a consumer-owned natural foods store that offers organic and locally produced foods. "It is a local alternative that helps out local farmers and producers," said Joshua Kendall, branding manager for Community Mercantile, otherwise known as The Merc. "Half of the store's sales are from the owners themselves; they are in a sense supporting each other and interest." — By Kaitlin Driver