When the local grocer retires

Glen Gust, right, shown in 2014 while presenting a check to Luverne’s VFW to be used for veterans’ programs. Photo: Glen’s Food Center Facebook page.

I’ve written in the past about the disappearing local grocery store and it’s worth noting that the disappearing local grocer is an icon worth celebrating too.

Luverne is one of those idyllic communities with a local grocery – Glen’s Food Center and Deli.

I had the pleasure of meeting Glen Gust during a NewsCut road trip in 2013 to meet the nine remaining members of Glen’s Coffee Clique Last Man Club, a group of World War II veterans who met at Glen’s store every morning, often enough that he dedicated part of the grocery to a bakery and coffee shop, giving the club a place to call home and a spot on the wall.

MPR Photo/Bob Collins

He provided free cake, ice cream, and coffee for the vets and, we suspect, regularly contributed to the booster clubs, and yearbooks and school functions. He gave scholarships to graduating seniors. He sponsored local youth sports teams, and provided all the reasons local residents should shop at a local grocery, even if the prices might be a little cheaper on the edge of town at the big chain that couldn’t give a damn about any of that stuff.

The club is down to just five now and it’s about to lose Gust, the Facebook group Luverne Area Chatter reports this afternoon.

Gust, a former mayor of Luverne, has sold the store to a South Dakota chain and is retiring.

Related icons: Report: Downtown Macy’s tells Mpls. it will close (KARE)