Northland convenience store closes after chain opens nearby

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Wrenshall is a town of about 400 people that sits on the border of Jay Cooke State Park, 30 minutes or so southwest of Duluth. And within its borders it has a well-known convenience store: One Stop Market.

Gas, groceries, snacks and even homemade pizza – all available on the southern end of the town's main strip, Broadway, and owned by a local family, the Pfaus.

But as of about 5 p.m. Monday, Wrenshall no longer has the local gas station and convenience store – Wrenshall "had" it.

One Stop Market is closing, and pointing its finger at the move-in of big chain businesses as the reason customers have disappeared.

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Chad Pfau, who bought the shop in 2011, told Northland's NewsCenter the market made more than $1 million in that first year, and last year did $1.8 million – before the bottom fell out in December.

That's the same time a Kwik Trip opened in Scanlon, just a few miles north.

One Stop Market lost money that month and sold a fraction of the gas it normally did, Pfau told the station, and One Stop Market was unable to compete with the advertising and deals Kwik Trip offered.

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It's a common problem for mom-and-pop shops across Minnesota.

The state's grocery stores are trying to find ways to stay competitive with the supercenters that are open 24 hours and offer cheap prices.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance compiled a handful of studies that looked at what happened to local stores when a large retailer moved in. The reports cited found small independent shops lost significant business and sometimes closed due to the brand's sudden presence.

But while chains can hurt the local businesses, it can also mean jobs.

Kwik Trip, which has numerous locations throughout Wisconsin and now Minnesota, planned to open 34 new stores in the region this past year, including the one in Scanlon, Convenience Store News said. Another handful of stores are expected to debut in 2015.

The Duluth News Tribune reported last summer that at least 300 jobs were expected for the area.

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