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Osakis welcomes new grocery store

Heath Peterson and his wife, Cynthia (left) and daughters, Lindsey (center), 12, and Johanna (right), 16, opened Osakis Family Foods on Thursday, May 16. Store hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

There's been a whole lot of buzz and excitement and now it's official - Osakis Family Foods opened for business on May 16.

Heath and Cindy Peterson recently bought the former grocery store in Osakis.

They expect to employee 12 people.

The Petersons and staff have spent the last few weeks cleaning up the building, putting in equipment and stocking shelves. Last week, new, energy-efficient lighting was scheduled to be installed and fresh groceries were brought in.

"Everybody seems really excited that we're opening," Heath said. "Everyone in town has been really nice. Jon at the hardware store and people at First National Bank of Osakis have bent over backwards to help. The local contractors have helped us. Everybody has helped."

Heath wanted to be sure to let customers know that, for now, the store cannot accept Minnesota Food Assistance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps), or Women, Infants and Children Program purchases. Paperwork is still being processed at the state level, he said.

Currently, the Petersons also own Frazee Family Foods in Frazee. They bought that store in 2007 and will continue to run it concurrently with the Osakis location. Heath grew up in the grocery business; his dad owned a store in Little Fork.



A $60,000 forgivable loan from the Osakis Economic Development Authority (OEDA) helped the Petersons make store improvements.

The $60,000 was used for putting in a new point of sale system and for new freezers and coolers for meat and dairy.

According to the OEDA, if the Petersons operate the store for five years and keep it open, each year, 20 percent of the $60,000 would be forgiven and after those five years, the money would not have to be re-paid.

OEDA Board Member Bruce Pederson said, "I think it shows the commitment of the OEDA as far as following through with its purpose to promote economic development in Osakis. It was the overall agreement and understanding by the OEDA that the grocery store is a core component of retail businesses in Osakis. There's a definite crossover benefit to other retail businesses by having a grocery store in the community.

"We're just pleased as can be that Heath and Cindy are part of the retail community," Pederson said. "I've made several visits to the store and been very impressed with what the overall plan has been for improving the facility and providing Osakis with a very, very nice grocery store."

The OEDA was formed in April of 1997 with the purpose of promoting economic development, managing the Industrial Park and improving the housing market in Osakis. A seven member board oversees the operations with funding provided by the city of Osakis and donations by the Osakis Economic Development Corporation.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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