ONAGA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Good economic news can be hard to come by but in the Pottawatomie County town of Onaga, Pam Budenbender and her husband are hoping to give local business a boost.
They’re opening the Onaga Country Market- a block away from where the town’s last grocery store burned down. The cause of the fire at Nider's Thriftway last December remains undetermined.
"This community deserves to have a good store with a lot of available product, not only Onaga but Havensville and Wheaton and the surrounding communities. It is 25-30 miles any direction that you choose to travel to find groceries," Pam Budenbender said. Budenbender and her husband own businesses in Kansas City, but they spend their weekends on a farm outside of Onaga.
Grocery stores in small towns like Onaga are crucial to the local economy so when they lost their only store to a fire a year ago, residents and business owners were concerned about the future of the place they call home.
"The other businesses start to struggle. You worry about employment issues then. Are there going to be jobs in town? If people don’t move to town you worry about the housing economy. It can start to snowball. You lose one, you lose two and then you don’t have much of a town left. It’s a store that’s crucial to keeping the town viable, to keeping it open," said Dan Peters with Morrill and Janes Bank in Onaga. He says customers at the new Onaga Country Market will use the local pharmacy and hardware store to run their errands, helping drive up business everywhere in Onaga.
Peters and county officials helped Budenbender put together a package of low-interest rural development loans. But it wasn't enough to cover costs, so the Onaga City Council decided to kick in $375,000 towards the new building.
Onaga businesses are counting on the grocery store to bring customers back, and maybe even draw in people from the rest of the region.
The new 6,000-foot store in Onaga is set to open Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 AM.