With community support, small-town grocery stores can thrive

Palubicki's Family Market

Palubicki’s Family Market preliminary front elevation. Click image for larger view.

By Leah Palubicki – Fosston, MN – July, 8th 2016

Despite the troubling trend of small towns across the country losing their only grocery store, in Fosston, MN we’ve broken ground on an expansion that will more than double the size of our family owned store. The longstanding support of local shoppers is the one reason Palubicki’s Foods and Deli continues to grow during challenging times for supermarkets in rural communities.

Other Minnesota towns haven’t been as fortunate. The Star Tribune reported the closure of Zup’s Food Market in Aurora in January, noting that outstate Minnesota lost 14 percent of its grocery stores between 2000 and 2013.

In April, the Mankato Free Press reported on efforts in Kiester, MN to open a community grocery store two years after a local market went out of business there. It’s been an uphill battle, but it shows how people will band together to ensure fresh food is available in their communities. The main challenge, the Free Press article notes, is that “already low profit margins have been pinched even tighter by big-box competition.”

The June issue of Grocery Headquarters featured an article about how changing population and shopping patterns have caused scores of supermarkets to close across small-town America. The story quotes Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association, who says the challenge is the changing demographics in rural communities.

“You’re seeing a shift in the economy,” Pfuhl said. “We’re seeing an aging population and a more transient consumer that is making greater choices, including driving 15 to 20 miles to go to a supercenter. We get consumers calling. We get cities calling frustrated that there is nowhere to pick up milk or eggs. But those convenience stops don’t keep the grocer alive. We find the consumer wants it when they want it, but they don’t generally want to support it. They’ll say, ‘It is cheaper to drive to X Big City and shop at X Super Center. I have to shop there to support my family, but I really need that corner grocer if I have to pick up a box of cake mix.’ Truth is, that does not keep that small town grocer alive.”

When consumers choose to drive to bigger cities to shop at supercenters, it not only affects the local store’s bottom line, but also the families that earn their living working there. At Palubicki’s Foods and Deli and Palubicki’s Express, we’re proud to have over 70 employees serving our community. We’re all in it together.

While many small towns are losing their grocery store or struggling to keep it open, we’re making giants strides to strengthen Palubicki’s commitment to the Fosston area by expanding our store, creating new jobs and continuing to bring fresh food and fresh ideas to the area.

Our new 43,000-square-foot store will bring more jobs, a huge tax benefit to the school district and city and boost the entire community in numerous ways beyond the improved shopping experience. As always Palubicki’s will be your low price leader, grocery costs will not be increased because of the new store, but prices will be even lower due to the ability to buy smarter and in larger volumes.

Without our loyal customers—the friends and neighbors who’ve helped us to grow for decades—we couldn’t do it. So please join us when our new store opens in December with wider aisles and more choices—including a greater variety of locally sourced, natural foods. We can’t wait to launch the next chapter of our story and prove some small-town grocers are here to stay.

Feel free to submit your questions or comments below in the comments.

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Small Town Grocery Stores
Press Inquiries Contact

Leah Palubicki
[email protected]
(218) 435- 1454
C: (218) 289-3856


  1. Phil Storsteen on July 8, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Myself and all members of our hunting group believe in buying local. Your store has always offered supplies at a fair price followed by great service. So, from all of us in Duluth, congratulations on your new facility.

    • Leah on July 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks. We love Duluth!

  2. LaDonna and Steve Zimmerman on July 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Looking forward to your opening! We have always supported your store and other stores in town, as we believe in shopping locally. I love how I can always find someone to answer my questions on different products and how you will stock items we need if they are not on your shelf. Great customer service.

    • Leah on July 8, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you very much. Without customer like you this would not be possible.

  3. Melissa on July 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Will the new store have the same hours? Open 8-8

    • Leah on July 8, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      The morning hours will change for the Caribou Coffee drive-thru. We may extend the closing hours to 9 p.m.

  4. james wark on July 8, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    There Use to be plans for a Mexican restaurant, will there still be something similar in the new store?

    • Leah Palubicki on July 10, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      James – Due to design changes we were unable to fit the Mexican restaurant in.

  5. Keenan Reese on July 9, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Love the friendly, and helpful staff at Palubicki’s 🙂

  6. Julie on July 9, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I love shopping in this store. I always pickup meat to take back home each time I’m here to visit My daughter and son in law.

  7. Joan Berntson on July 9, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I am proud to say that all four of my children have worked at Palubicki’s. Keep up the good work of providing jobs for our community and a chance to shop local.

    • Leah on July 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks you Joan! Hiring our friends and neighbors is what makes a local community thrive.

  8. Sharolyn Goodsen on July 9, 2016 at 8:34 am

    The very best bakery buns!! Shop there every time I am in Fosston. Excited for your new store.

    • Leah on July 10, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you Sharolyn! We appreciate your business. See you soon.

  9. Debi Sall on July 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I must say that Palubicki’s prices are lower than big box stores on most items I purchase, good prices, great meat and selection. Keep up the good work and congratulations on the new store. I am excited to see it built.

    • Leah on July 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks Debi! We work very hard to keep our prices competitive with big box stores.

  10. Clara on July 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    We stopped in Ada one time and the attendant mentioned shopping at Palubicki’s during hunting season every year. He was so happy to learn of the new store instead of the store having to close. This is exciting for us to watch the new store progress.

  11. Arla Kinney on July 10, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I love working and shopping at Palubicki’s!! Thanks for always getting in things I ask for!! It’s the best meat and produce hands down anywhere!!

  12. Kris Snyder on July 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Variety is the spice of life. Will the new market offer organic options, more locally sourced food, and a coffee place?

    • Leah on July 10, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Yes more organic options. Yes more locally sourced foods. Yes a Caribou Coffee with a drive thru and much more!

  13. Joyce White on July 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    We appreciate the long years of service you’ve provided to the community and are excited that you are taking this new step to make local shopping even more appealing and productive. Thanks!

  14. Kari Kinunen on July 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I have said for a long time that you can tell how a town is growing by the coffee shops that are going in. I’m glad to see a Caribou going in with a drive through. Will it have in door seating as well? I think this is a great thing for the community. Our current culture loves to have meetings and visits over a cozy environment and cup of coffee!

  15. Fawn on December 3, 2016 at 2:15 am

    LOVE your store! The employees are always friendly and helpful – can’t wait for the new store to open – when will that be?

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