Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 17, 2003

New grocery store for Lester Prairie?

By Ryan Gueningsman

Two years ago, Carey Nelson and his wife Sandy of Burnsville bought a struggling grocery store in Brownton and turned it into a profitable business. Not long after, he did the same thing in Hector.

He is now hoping to re-establish a grocery store in Lester Prairie.

"I'm interested in getting another store," Nelson told community members at a Lester Prairie Business Association meeting Tuesday. "I'd like a busier location ­ and this is it."

Nelson cited the current population plus potential development in the area as one of the major reasons a store would work in Lester Prairie.

"I was impressed with Lester Prairie," Nelson said. "There is no reason a store can't work here."

The first choice that has to be made is the location, and whether it be built in an existing building or go "from the ground up, " he said.

"The cheapest way is to have an existing building ­ no matter what kind of shape it is in," he said. "The roof can be fixed, update the plumbing and electricity, and basically remodel the building."

Nelson works with Mason Brothers, a wholesale grocery company from Wadena that assists with the design, facilities, etc.

In a brochure he passed around, Mason Brothers described Nelson's work in both Hector and Brownton.

The store he re-built in Hector was a SuperValu and had been closed for six months when he took it over.

Inside both stores when he began were dark floor tiles and dark paneling. Nelson immediately planned to "brighten" the look.

The Nelsons tore out shelves, exposed the support poles, took apart cases, and began creating the new look.

They laid white speckled tile on the floor with occassional hunter green tile mixed in. The ceiling and walls were painted white, with a homemade border. Track lighting was also added to brighten the dark spots.

Old scales, wooden pop cases, meat saws, and any other artifacts found in the basement were put on top of the coolers to add a touch from the past.

Nelson invited members of the community to tour one or both of his stores in Hector and Brownton to see what he can accomplish.

"The stores in Hector and Brownton were a risk ­ this will be too," Nelson said. "I'm willing to take another risk, but I want others to be willing to take a risk too."

Nelson is in the process of getting on a Lester Prairie City Council agenda to make a presentation to the city of Lester Prairie before the grocery store building will be auctioned March 4.

There may be a special meeting of the council to hear his presentation before the auction.

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