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Community Rallies To Keep Grocery Store In Business

Thursday, August 29, 2019

By Deb Hadachek – Telescope News

It’s not going down without a fight.

That was the consensus after community members brainstormed in Cuba last week on ways to help the Cuba Cash Store’s cash flow. Store owner Cheri Cardi, who has owned the business three years, called a public meeting last week and announced the 138-year-old business was in danger of closing. She said she has worried for several months that the store cannot generate enough profit to cover operating costs and provide her an income for her own bills.

At a Cuba Booster Club meeting Wednesday night several possible solutions were offered, including pre-paid vouchers that allow customers to commit to purchase a certain amount of groceries at the store each month. A GoFundMe account (www.gofundme. com/f/cuba-cash-comeback) was established to help cover the cost of recent building repairs, and a community fundraiser is planned Sunday, September 15 at noon.

Republic County Economic Development director Luke Mahin said he received phone calls, texts and emails from multiple people on Tuesday after Cardi visited with the public about her concerns Monday night. “That’s a level of support and concern from a community to try to help a business that I don’t always see,” he said.

Cardi said she appreciates the donations and support, but the real lifesaver for the store will be continued traffic and sales.

“I love everyone in this community, and I love the store and what I do,” Cardi said. “I originally bought the store because it was something my son and I could do together, and because I really believe the community needs the store.”

The Write Stuff
The Ties That Bind Us Together

Editorial – Deb Hadachek

It was a grim Monday last week when I learned the Cuba Cash Store is in danger of closing. My concern is not just for the fate of the store or Cuba or my friend Cheri Cardi.

It’s because I know Cuba Cash is not the only business in the county, large or small, that crunches the numbers each month to decide if there’s enough cash flow to pay the bills.

When small business owners take a risk to open a business, they put their name, their reputation, and their sanity on the line.

You quickly learn to develop a thick skin to snippy comments about what you stock, how you run your business and what you charge.

Because, you know, businesses (including farmers, newspapers and doctors) don’t have overhead. The merchandise and supplies come to them for free, their employees volunteer, the utility companies give them deep discounts, they don’t have taxes to pay. If you write them a check for $100, they take home $100, free and clear.

Yeah, no. That’s not how it works.

It’s easy for the public to sit back and decide where to shop. God help a small business owner who needs to replace a vehicle or make an improvement to their home.

I’ve heard more than one person say “Well, they don’t need my money” as justification to whizz out of town to a big box discount store to shop.

Here’s some numbers you need to keep in mind, as reported by Bloomberg News on August 10: $70,000 per minute, $4 million per hour, $100 million per day.

That’s how quickly the fortune of the Waltons, the clan behind Walmart Inc., grows. At that rate, their wealth expanded about $23,000 since you began reading this.

So, yeah. Call me crazy spendthrift that I don’t mind one bit if the owner of any local business ekes enough profit to pay their utility bill at home every month, or take their family on vacation once in a while.

Every single business in the county is important. We watch grocery stores the closest, maybe, because food is the basic mainstay of life. In hard times people may not buy furniture or cars or clothes, but they’ve got to buy food.

In the last decade, more than 45 independently owned groceries in towns of 2,500 people or less in Kansas have closed. Within the last year, the independent grocery store in Marysville fell victim to that trend.

According to a report in Forbes Magazine, nationally, grocery stores have one of the lowest profit margins of all businesses, at 2.5 percent. (That’s for the ones that make a profit.) That’s why volume is important.

Food is surprisingly cheap compared to all the other things we spend money on.

The USDA says Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food. About five percent of that is food they eat at home; 4.7 percent is food eaten away from home. That percentage has declined steadily since 1960, when the average American spent nearly 17 percent of their income on food.

Obviously, that decline hasn’t happened because we’re all eating less and weigh much less than our counterparts in the 60s.

Americans on average spend about 25 percent of their income on housing (mortgage payments or rent, property taxes, maintenance, utilities, household services and products, furnishings and appliances), 13 percent on federal, state and local income taxes; 12 percent on transportation and associated costs, and about six percent on health care. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

We all run out of county once in a while to buy things. Sometimes wandering around a big box store is just a form of entertainment. Some people’s shopping habits have always taken them north or south or east without any thought.

But we should think carefully about the hidden costs to our communities when we make most of our day-to-day purchases outside the county. Food. Cars. Building materials. Appliances.

Those businesses and the people who own them are part of what ties us together and helps make us community.

Every time one of them closes, those community ties unravel a little more.

Things I Think… I Think
Needs Know No Season

Viewpoint – Fred Arnold Publisher

…. Last week the Telescope carried a story about Cuba Cash Store and the seemingly uphill battle it faces to remain open and in service to our eastern neighbors. Since the story broke I have spoken with financial, economic development and other business people to brainstorm over what, if anything, can be done. I hope I’m not sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong, but any time even one of our Republic County businesses faces challenges or possibly worse, we all will be affected to some degree.

Every business and every person in Republic County needs every other business and person in Republic County. Unfortunately regarding the Cuba Cash situation I was told more than once, “there’s a reason you don’t see grocery stores in towns with 150 people.” I was hoping for a little better answer or input but that’s what I got.

My best advice at this point is to simply patronize your local businesses as much as possible. When they’re gone all we hear is “that’s too bad, or someone should have done something.” Right now we do have the option to do something.

RCED would like to note that even in a small county our dollars have a large impact.

Consumers in Republic County spend about $13.2 million annually on food purchases.

According to a recent local food assessment in Republic County by the NCK Food Council. Visit for more about their regional food assessment as well as eleven other NCK county reports.