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Wood River couple to open grocery store in Ravenna

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RAVENNA — Ravenna residents soon will be able to shop locally for groceries.

Wood River couple and grocery store owners Veronica and Jamie Morse closed Thursday on the purchase of the Ravenna Super Foods building from Town & Country Bank in Ravenna.

The Morses, who own MNO Hometown Market & Catering in Wood River, will continue to serve their community while running their expanded business, MNO Hometown Market-Ravenna.

The Morses wrote in a Facebook post Thursday, “Alright friends, we did a thing ...”

“We are super excited to continue serving our Wood River friends while expanding to serve our new Ravenna friends. This has been in the works for a few months now and it felt like the best decision for both communities and our business.”

Veronica said in an interview Friday with the Hub that their target open date is the beginning of 2021 after they remodel the store. But, she said, if they can push their contractors to work more quickly, she and Jamie would like to open the Ravenna grocery store before the holidays.

“It’s all going to depend on the contractors. There’s a lot of work in there that needs to be done,” she said.

The work includes replacing the coolers and flooring, repairing and painting the walls as needed and adding new checkout lanes.

The Morses’ announcement comes more than 1 ½ years after Paul and Kim McDowell of Ravenna closed the only grocery store in town, Ravenna Super Foods, in January 2019. At that time, the McDowells told the Hub that increased competition from chain stores and economic losses in the Ravenna community contributed to the closure. They had owned the business for 23 years.

After the town was left without a grocery store, Ravenna Economic Development Executive Director Amber Ross and other community members worked to find a new grocer in their town of 1,350 people. She said different groups talked with area grocers about the opportunity in Ravenna, and the Morses were the right fit.

“They’re just really excited to come into Ravenna and really expand what they’re already doing in Wood River,” she said.

Veronica said she and Jamie bought the grocery store in Wood River five years ago.

At the Ravenna store, she said they will offer both groceries and catering services, as they do in Wood River. However, because the Ravenna store is twice as big as the Wood River store, she said they will be able to offer more selection and variety of goods, which includes meat, produce, frozen and dry goods, as well as alcohol, in Ravenna.

The Ravenna store is 6,000 square feet, and 4,500 square feet of it will be dedicated to grocery. The other 1,500 square feet will be dedicated to warehouse space for both the Ravenna and Wood River stores.

“By expanding into Ravenna, we’re going to be able to have our own grocery delivery,” Veronica said. “Where before we were co-oping with the Shelton grocery store (Larry’s Market) and having to go there to get our truck every week.”

Veronica said she will balance her time between the Ravenna and Wood River stores. Jamie will continue to work full time at his Grand Island job and will help at the family businesses on nights and weekends.

The couple currently is seeking part-time help in Wood River, and will hire several part-time employees and a full-time manager in Ravenna.

Ravenna community members seem to be excited for a new grocery store. Veronica said her Facebook announcement has been shared at least 125 times and comments mostly have been positive.

She wants the Ravenna community to know she will be there to do a good job.

“I really want to drive home with a fresh-looking store,” Veronica said, “And we’re going to knock it out of the park.”

Ross said a new grocery store will be a good economic opportunity for Ravenna.

“I know that when people come to a community and they go to a grocery store then they’re more likely to go to the doctor or go to the physical therapist or stop in for dinner and those kinds of things,” she said.

erika.pritchard@kearneyhub.com

@erikadpritchard

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