KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — A year-round farmers' market is how local resident Steve Salt sees his new venture — The Downtown Grocery Store — that he'll open later this month.
For nearly a quarter century, Salt, who owns a nearby 146-acre farm, has marketed his vegetables at farmers' markets in the surrounding area, including Kirkville's weekly one in summer. He also has been running community supported agriculture (CSA) groups for the past 19 years
Recently, counting on his long-time ties to the community and consumers' continued interest in “buying local,” Salt decided to bring his home-grown products downtown year-round and supplement his own offerings with other locally grown and raised items. Selections, in addition to locally grown produce, will include local molasses, honey, dairy products, baked goods and bulk products, which he'll source from farther away.
“We have been overwhelmed with the local response — TV, radio, print media, civic booster organizations, student organizations, CSA members and others,” Salt told SN.
SN talked to one enthusiastic resident and Kirksville Area Chamber of Commerce representative.
“I think it'll be a wonderful addition to the town. It'll be good for the local economy, and very convenient,” said Andrea Darwin, project manager at the chamber. “It's just four blocks from the university and three from the medical school, and there are lots of apartments nearby.”
Salt's store, which is getting its finishing touches right now, seems a perfect match for a town with a population of less than 20,000, nearly half of which is made up of college students.
Until now, it's been necessary to drive to Hy-Vee or Aldi or Wal-Mart on the town's outskirts for any significant food shopping.
The 3,500 square-foot store, in its ambiance as well as in its product selection, will present a completely different option, Salt said.
“We'll have an old-time theme and decor, and the emphasis will be on local products, mine from my farm, and from others within a 50-mile radius.”
“The last locally owned grocery here closed over a decade ago, after trying to out-big the big guys — a mistake we hope not to make.”