St. John makes progress toward a new grocer

ST. JOHN, Kan. (KSNW) — In Stafford County, residents of St. John still don’t have a grocery store. It’s been 10 months since the Dillons closed.

Most of them told KSN’s Amanda Aguilar that it’s been frustrating not having a grocery store in the town.

Their only options are the local Dollar General store, or a trip to Pratt or Great Bend.

“It’s definitely a toll on the gas bill to travel, but resources are what they are and we make the best of it,” said Daniel Marciniak, a St. John resident.

Marciniak said he hasn’t heard any updates on the search for a grocer, but he’d like to see one soon.

“More so we don’t lose that sensibility that there is one here…that there is a resource in this town and keep people coming this way,” he said.

KSN reached out to officials to see if any progress is being made.

“We don’t have anything to announce as specific plans, but we are really trying to develop a good long-term solution,” said Carolyn Dunn, director of Stafford County Economic Development.

Dunn says the city has done a study, to explore whether the former store location, which is small, would be the best location for a grocery store — instead of a different, larger building.

“The likelihood of sales, at a location that has more square footage…has better traffic, is probably 41% higher,” said Dunn.

Currently, the city owns the old Dillons store.

Dunn said the grocery committee and city officials are taking the time to weigh out every option found in the study, but their main goal is to set up a potential grocer for long-term success.

“We don’t want to just put somebody in that could come in, but struggles.”)

Stafford County is also trying to provide some help, by offering a tax credit program for individuals or businesses that would like to donate money towards the development of a grocery store in the city.