- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

WAKEFIELD, Neb. (AP) - A small city in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County has bid farewell to a grocery store that had been a community staple for nearly a century.

On Wednesday the Soderberg family closed the doors of their Fair Store, Wakefield’s only market, for the last time. Owner Larry Soderberg, 54, spent his day thanking his customers for their business and friendship throughout the years.

“It’s kind of like a death,” Larry Soderberg said. “It’s a grief process. You deal with it and you move on, but we’ve lost part of us.”

Both Soderberg and his father, Charlie, said they remember hiring their sons and their sons’ friends to help at the store.

“They would come back years later and thank us,” Charlie said. “Some of them turned out to be pretty good businessmen, but they remember their first job.”

The first owners of the Fair Store were Henry Collins and Oscar Hypse, who constructed the building in 1901. Along with a grocery store, it originally also served as a general merchandise store. The Norfolk Daily News (http://bit.ly/1PRYgkR ) reports that the Soderberg family came into the business in 1920.

Larry Soderberg said it’s become difficult for small town grocers to compete over the years as the number of farm families has dwindled.

Charlie Soderberg still remembers when the town had five grocery stores.

“Saturday nights were the best,” he said. “We had a theater next door and a bar right next door to it. The ladies would come in to do their shopping. The streets would be full. The people in the community supported it.”

Larry Soderberg said there is interest in the historic building, and that it’s possible the new owners will reopen it as a grocery store. As for himself, Soderberg says will stay in the business and work at a Thriftyway in Norfolk.

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, http://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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