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'Dear Hy-Vee': Letter campaign urged to attract grocer to Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove wants to earn a spot on Hy-Vee’s shopping list.

Mayor Myron Bailey is encouraging area residents to write letters to the grocery store chain, in hopes it will open a store in Cottage Grove.

Iowa-based Hy-Vee has 17 stores in Minnesota and earlier this year announced plans to expand into the Twin Cities area. It has plans for an Oakdale store, and the company said it will add several locations annually over the next several years.

Hy-Vee representatives have visited Cottage Grove, Bailey said, and a personal pitch from potential customers could help attract the company. He suggested the letter campaign on Facebook, and citizens have reacted positively. One even drafted a letter others could use.

“I know there is interest in Cottage Grove,” Bailey said. “The question is how much, so I want to help that.”

The letter campaign comes just weeks after Rainbow Foods shuttered its store in the same Gateway North complex that houses the vacant Home Depot building.

Bailey said he has received phone calls and emails from citizens wondering what can be done to get another grocery store at that end of town, near 80th Street and East Point Douglas Road. Cub Foods, Target and Walmart are all south of Jamaica Avenue.

The strategy is broader than just landing a new grocery store, however. Bailey said there are retailers interested in being part of a redevelopment of the Home Depot site and other vacant space in the complex, but the presence of a grocery store is vital to at least one development plan.

In terms of appearance and price, Hy-Vee is somewhere between a Cub Foods and a Kowalski’s, Bailey said. Its stores often include a small restaurant or dining area and some have gas stations. Hy-Vee has 235 stores in eight states.

A Hy-Vee spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

A letter-writing campaign for new retail isn’t new to Cottage Grove, Bailey said. A similar effort was used to help attract Target years ago.

The mayor hopes for a similar outcome with Hy-Vee.

“What’s neat about this is we know they’re interested,” Bailey said. “The sooner we can make it happen, it will help.”

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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