New store opening ends 2-decade grocery drought for Meade County town

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:42 PM CST
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MEADE COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - A southwest Kansas town has cause for celebration following two decades without a grocery store. Recently, a new store opened in the town of Plains. Needless to say, this was a long time coming.

“”A lot of people thought it was never going to happen, but we just kept plugging along and it finally did,” said Community Enhancement Foundation of Plains President Jeanne Roberts.

Grand Avenue Market is the first grocery store in Plains in more than 20 years. In efforts to get a store back to town, there were hardships along the way.

“We thought we had everything in place, and with the USDA loan you have to have a letter of credit from a bank,” Roberts said. “And we had a letter of credit in place, and then that bank got purchased by another bank and that bank chose not to honor the letter of credit.”

It took determinination to get financing in order to end the grocery drought in Plains.

“Ad we talked to 13 different banks and the 13th one went with us,” Roberts said.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, representing Kansas’ large First Congressional District that includes rural counties across western Kansas, helped.

“Now, Senator Roger Marshall had his office call and tell us what bank to approach. We approached them, and it was Heartland Tri-State Bank in Elkhart,” Roberts said.

For the first time in decades, grocery shopping is convenient for people living in and near Plains, no longer having to drive between 15 and 25 miles to either Meade or Liberal to get groceries.

The grocery store project that saw a long-term goal realized this week in Plains began in 2008. The communities of Kismet and Plains raised nearly $500,000 for the $2 million project. The store’s opening was a dream come true for the rural community.

“It means a lot,” Roberts said. “I mean, it’s not going to work if we don’t have the community behind us and they’ve been showing tremendous support since it’s been open.”

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