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Community of Menno planning bigger grocery store

In this Nov. 18, 2013 photo Menno Food Market manager Shawn Black stands next a mural of the Menno, grocery store created by freehand airbrush artist Mickey Harris. (AP photo)

MENNO (AP) — Residents who took over the lone grocery store in the southeastern South Dakota town of Menno to keep it from closing are now planning to build a bigger store.

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The Menno Food Market has seen rapid growth since shareholders bought the private business in 2008, board chairman Dave Bender told the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan. Shareholders recently bought land along U.S. Highway 18 for an 8,500-square-foot supermarket, twice the size of the downtown store, he said.

"We are maxed out of floor space, and our sales continue to grow. With more room available, we would be able to offer more products," Bender said. "We will also offer things like better handicapped accessibility and bigger aisles. Right now, it's hard for two carts to go down the same aisle."

The group hopes to have the new site open within two years. It not only will better serve customers in the town of 600 people but also will tap into highway traffic, Bender said.

"We will be the only grocery store on Highway 18 between I-29 and Lake Andes," he said. "During the summer, we could pick up campers and boats to and from the (Missouri) River."

Manager Shawn Black said a bigger store also would likely mean the need for more workers. The current store has 14 employees.

The shareholders hope to finalize the financing and construction plans at the annual meeting next March, Black said. He estimated the cost of a new store at between $800,000 and $1 million, not including the cost of expanded inventory.