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Merger time in small-town grocery business

There hasn’t been much news lately on mergers and acquisitions, but this report from the West Central Tribune shows the two grocery stores in Paynesville, Minn., have combined to stay in business and keep one family food store alive in the central M

There hasn’t been much news lately on mergers and acquisitions, but this report from the West Central Tribune shows the two grocery stores in Paynesville, Minn., have combined to stay in business and keep one family food store alive in the central Minnesota town of 2,200.

Joel’s Family Foods officially closed its doors Jan. 29 after merging with Paynesville SuperValu in December, but almost all of Joel’s employees now work for Paynesville SuperValu as a condition of the merger.

“We both needed to be doing more business than what we were doing, and where do you get it?” said Joel Burr, former owner of Joel’s, who inherited the store from his father who opened it more than 40 years ago. Burr and his father were partners in the business until Burr became the owner about 11 years ago, he said.

Since the merger, Burr said at least one employee at Paynesville SuperValu probably knows or is related to any customer that walks into the store.

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My favorite quote of the story is from Burr, talking about the advantage small grocery stores have over supercenters or large grocery companies:

“Service is No. 1,” Burr said. “ … Here you’re not a number.”

Well, maybe you are a number. No. 1.