Small towns in southeastern South Dakota fighting to save grocery store

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TYNDALL, S.D. - For the second time this year three small towns in southeastern South Dakota could be losing their grocery stores.
The Cash Smart stores in Scotland, Tyndall, and Tripp are all under the same ownership.
The new owner took them over in March when the family running them unexpectedly closed up shop.
But if sales don't increase by the end of the year, he will close the stores.
While a grocery store may help with convenience, community leaders in Tyndall say it means a lot more than that. They call the grocery store the center of the community and say if it closes its doors, it could affect every single business on Main Street.

Decorations are up and this hardware store is staying busy.

“Christmas is coming so we're hoping the chimes on the door keep ringing all the time,” Ace Hardware owner Wayne Winckler said.

He hopes the grocery store can also get a boost from the shopping season.

“Every small town needs a grocery store, that's all there is to it,”Winckler said.

Because the Cash Smart feeds business to the rest of the stores on Main Street.

“When you don't have people coming down Main Street, towns don't survive without people shopping,” he said.

That's what Tyndall community leaders are afraid of.

“You're going to take people out of town, well maybe they'll buy their gas there, eat there, do whatever. You're going to lose the businesses,” Tyndall Development President Ron Wagner said.
Wagner also worries about the loss of sales tax revenue and jobs in the community.

Cash Smart owner, R.F. Buche says he is working to increase business by 50%.
He has hired a manager to work at each store, changed the day food is delivered, and moved the sales to days when the stores see the most customers.

“We think that is going to make a huge difference. We've already heard very positive comments from our team and our customers,” Buche said.

But the store will have to make a big turnaround to meet the deadline and the town's leaders are working on a plan B just in case.

“We've been talking to a lot of people behind the scenes about the possibility of purchasing the grocery store and keeping it open that way,” Tyndall Development representative Dave Sutera said.

While the town waits to see what happens, Winckler says he'll be looking on the bright side.

“I think we're a good enough community that we'll make it work somehow,” he said.

Buche says the end of the year deadline comes from a deal he made with his bank. He promised to be profitable by the end of the year when he took over the stores.
If he can't live up to his word, he'll be forced to close his doors.