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Specialty grocer in Mitchell could close

Leonard Lambright, owner of Prairie Town Grocery, helps a customer check out Monday afternoon in Mitchell. The business is planning to close at the end of the month if there are no buyers to take it over. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

After more than five years in business, a local specialty grocery store could soon close.

Prairie Town Grocery, at 601 S. Sanborn Blvd., will close unless a buyer is found and a deal is made before the end of the month, according to owner Leonard Lambright.

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Lambright co-owns Prairie Town Grocery with his wife, LaLainya Lambright. The business itself has been successful, he said, but, because of a family situation, the couple has decided to leave Mitchell to be with LaLainya’s family in Arizona.

“It was tough, but it was a decision that we had to make,” he said.

Lambright has received several serious offers for the property, but said he is yet to reach a deal with any potential buyers.

“I need to have a commitment by the end of the month for anything to change,” he said.

Lambright said he and his wife have also tried to find someone to run the business in their absence, but have had no success.

“If something would happen that we could keep it and hire someone to run it, I’d definitely do that,” he said.

The business, known for its deli meats and cheeses, has two full-time and three part-time employees. Though Mitchell has three other, much larger grocery stores — County Fair, Coborn’s and Walmart — competition was not a factor in the decision to close Prairie Town Grocery, Lambright said.

“We were enough of a specialty store that we didn’t really sense a lot of competition,” he said.

Lambright bought the building that now houses Prairie Town Grocery in 2008 for $175,000. The building was home to several businesses before then and had become rundown and vacant in the years before Prairie Town Grocery opened.

Because of the revitalized building, the loss of Prairie Town Grocery has a hidden benefit, according to Bryan Hisel, executive director of the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and Mitchell Area Development Corp.

“You’ve got new investment in the building,” Hisel said. “That’s always a positive thing for a community.”