The only grocery store in Marquette is now offering stock in the store in hopes of saving the 100-year-old business. Store owners and residents said business has decreased since the loss of the town’s school years ago.
Piper’s Fine Foods sits in the heart of Marquette, and many residents said it’s one of the greatest assets in town.
The store is now five generations strong and was opened nearly a century ago by the Piper Family.
“The grocery store is the heart of the town and without one, there’s not much left,” said Steve Piper, owner. “The store has been here for a long time and we think that people realize there’s a need to shop here more in town.”
Green signs are now posted inside and outside of the store about the option for buying stock.
The owners are offering that stock for $5,000 a share and will pay five percent interest.
The offer is part of the Invest Kansas Exemption (IKE), which is designed to enable small businesses and other organizations formed in Kansas to raise up to $1,000,000 during a 12-month period with minimal regulatory requirements.
“We knew that no one could come in and buy the store because of the heavy debt load,” said Piper. “So, we looked at the stock issue, which is what we’re working on right now. That gives us some money then to pay off debt, and then also give us money to operate the store in the future.”
Piper has also sent out letters to residents and said business has already increased since he mailed them out.
“We sent out a letter to every resident in Marquette and explained to them that business was not great, and we had to make changes,” said Piper.
Many of the people who shop at Piper’s have lived in Marquette for decades and said the town needs the store.
“All of these businesses in all of these small towns have a hard time and struggle,” said Dixon Johnson, resident since 1951. “That’s what we depend on is loyalty from the citizens and the businesses.”
Other residents said although there is no guarantee for a large profit, the risk is worth it.
“If they want to have a grocery store, it is,” said Max Buffington, resident.
“It’s just so convenient to have a grocery store here for the population,” said Johnson. “Otherwise, we’d have to drive 20 or 30 minutes to buy our groceries.”
The owners are hoping to reach their goal of $350,000 in stocks in order to help save the store.
“There’s still a good future here,” said Piper. “It’s an excellent store. It’s a good town, good people here in Marquette and we want it to continue that way.”
So far, the owners have received about $100,000 in stock pledges.
To find out more information about the Invest Kansas Exemption (IKE), click here.