- Associated Press - Saturday, May 27, 2017

LITTLE RIVER, Kan. (AP) - A small-town grocery store in Kansas has been revitalized after a recent $200,000 remodel.

The city of Little River purchased the 100-year-old building that houses the struggling Garden of Eden grocery store and leased it back to the owners, David and Debra Nelson, who have owned the only grocery store in the town of 600 people for the past 12 years, The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/2rGmI64 ) reported.

Jack Wempe, president of Lyons State Bank, said he knew the Nelsons were struggling to keep the store open.

“They have committed a lot to the community,” Wempe said. “I hated to see them not being able to survive.”

Getting the Nelsons energy-efficient coolers and reduce energy costs would help make the store more viable, Wempe said.

The city council then secured a community grant to help fund the remodel and update the store’s outdated coolers and freezers. The remodel also included a new ceiling with improved lighting, new heating and air conditioning, and refurbished wooden floors.

“In my mind they were bailing us out,” Nelson said.

Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, said many communities around the state are doing similar things to ensure the future of community grocery stores.

“It is still special in Little River that they did this,” Penner said. “The community took the incentive and came to the grocery store - rather than the Nelsons going to them.”

The remodeling is an asset to the community, said Mayor Don Teeters.

“They took the steps to preserve this for another 20 to 30 years,” Teeter said.

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