TGB Seeks Input on Store Relocation Plan; Survey and Community Forum Planned
By Joe Morey, News Editor
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) is circulating a survey in the community in reference to a plan for moving the LCO Country Store from its current location to the Northeast section of the Hwy B & K corner, across from the Sevenwinds Casino and Dollar General.
In December, LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver announced the plan after the Perkins Marketing Company out of Northfield, MN, presented their findings following a feasibility study on the possible relocation. At that time, Weaver said the next phase is to conduct a community survey to find out if this is what the tribal membership wants and if so, what they want to see in a newly constructed store.
“We need to know what our members would like to see in a new grocery store, such as a deli, meat counter, and bakery, and we need to find out other information such as why they aren’t shopping at the current store,” said Weaver.
The survey has 16 questions that will help tribal government decide the next course of action. You can pick up a copy of the survey at the LCO Country Store or Koobie’s Coffee or cut out the survey published in this issue following the article. You may drop off the completed surveys at the store or Koobies.
Weaver said anyone who fills out the survey will be entered into a weekly drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the LCO Country Store.
A community forum is scheduled for January 23, 6:00 pm at the LCO College’s Pipe Mustache Auditorium for members of the community to gather more information and ask questions they may have.
Weaver said a presentation by Spartan Nash is planned for the forum. Spartan Nash is a wholesale supplier that works with many grocery stores across the Midwest giving them a large buying power. Notably, they work with Economart in Spooner.
“Spartan Nash helped with the feasibility study and a market study,” said Weaver.
DBS will also be at the forum. They are designers of the new store plan. DBS is the company that designed the Fourwinds Market complex for the St. Croix Tribe in Siren.
Weaver said the current store in its present location and condition is not operating profitably and the Perkins Marketing Company found that relocating to the proposed location by the casino and constructing a 16,000 square foot supermarket would produce the highest volume of sales.
Perkins told the group the new facility will improve operations and conditions with the focus on product quality, variety and value as well as promote their local hometown service-oriented shopping experience.
“A new facility will allow the space to expand the perishable departments, allow a better price image via a wall-of-values, offer more end displays, and increase manufacturer’s allowance items,” Perkins said. “In addition, seasonal items will be given the space to create strong summer sales, as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and other events.”
Weaver added the current store is in need of repairs. “The refrigeration replacement alone would cost $200,000. We could put a band aid on it till a new place is built at a lot less cost and that may be the better option.”
“We have 32 acres on the corner across from the casino,” Weaver said. “There is also a proposed plan for a new clinic on that spot and our goal is to make the new store fit in the same footprint. The spot has electric and sewer there, but we’d need to extend our water system from Giiwedin & Tall Pines and loop together up towards the casino.”
Perkins said the location has high traffic and explained that there is $51 spent per person in the trade area and most is spent at Marketplace Foods and Walmart, about 80%. The rest is float dollars spent at other area places, such as our store, Kwik Trip in Hayward, etc. The idea is the new store will capture more of those float dollars and be more profitable.
If the plan proves feasible and it’s what the tribe wants, Weaver said the store may be open as soon as 2020 or 2021.
In the above site plan, the strip mall complex is at bottom left, supermarket at bottom right and the health and wellness center at the top.