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University of Minnesota Extension

Rural grocery stores

Two women hold grocery boxes smiling in a warehouse. They have packed 14-day meal kits stacked in front of them.

Rural grocery stores: the heart of rural communities

Small-town grocery stores are the heart of rural communities, yet many struggle with competition from larger chain stores, a shrinking customer base, and changing customer demands for fresh produce and greater variety. The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) support rural grocers affected by these issues through a number of resources and projects. We offer fresh produce handling guides for small retailers, information on how to work with farmers to sell locally grown produce, and in-store produce handling training and education. We also conduct research on innovative ways to help farmers sell local produce through rural grocers. These projects address needs identified in our 2015 and 2019 statewide Rural Grocery Survey and through our face-to-face conversations with rural grocery owners throughout Minnesota.

Projects and resources


For more examples of our rural grocery work

Explore our projects
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