The importance of a small town grocery store

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:35 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During a recent visit to Bruning, we discovered how the local grocery store brings convenience, as well as a sense of pride to the community.

We talked with store owner Paul Philippi about the history of the store. “My grandpa bought into the Bruning Grocery Store in 1973,” Philippi said. “It’s been family-owned and operated since then. My Dad got involved in the 80′s. I came back from college in 2008, and I’ve taken over in the last 4 or 5 years.”

Philippi says he enjoyed the grocery business as a kid. “I dressed up as a grocer for Halloween one year,” Philippi said. “In college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I got into business, then realized I had a passion for small communities. At that time, I approached Dad about coming back and taking over.”

COVID-19 has had an impact on many businesses, and Philippi reports some supply issues over time. But he says COVID has actually been good for the store. “We saw a strong uptick in business, and I think it’s brought people back to the idea of what a small grocery store means to a community.”

The Bruning Grocery carries a number of unique items, and it has a popular meat counter. “We’ve taken the idea of a full-service meat counter, and brought it back to life in a small grocery store,” Philippi said. “We want to cut your steaks fresh to order.” Philippi says having a grocery store in a small town is important. “When you think about it, people go to a store like this to pick up essential needs,” Philippi said. “If they can’t to go a store in their town, they are immediately leaving that town on a regular basis. That affects other businesses. It really is a bottom-level essential item for a community. It keeps people local, and it’s a point of pride for people.”

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