The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 13, 1996 · Page 49
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 49

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, October 13, 1996
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Page 49
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THE SALINA JOURNAL COMING HOME FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1996 9 • GROCERY STORES Small towns are a wonderful place to raise children. In that respect, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages." — DON AYRE, Bird City grocery store owner DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Cindy and Wes Herdt have been delivering groceries for Ayre's Market In Bird City for three years. From 1 to 4 a.m., the Herdts load their tractor-trailer with groceries and deliver them to stores in 12 small towns in Kansas and Nebraska. THE FOOD CHAIN Grocer helps keep smaller stores in business By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING The Salina Journal IRD CITY — More than B a decade ago, Don Ayre took a small-town grocery store and turned it into a supplier of merchandise for markets as far as 140 miles away. Each week, from Bird City, a community of 460 citizens in the state's northwest corner, one trailer- tractor and two smaller models deliver groceries to 12 rural stores in Kansas and Nebraska. On the route are Agra, Selden, Winona, Long Island, three stores in Nebraska and several stations in between. "We're sort of our own little cooperative," Ayre said. State Rep. Fred Gatlin, who lives in Atwood, about 30 miles east of Bird City, said food often costs more in the rural areas because for many suppliers "we tend to be the end of the line on stuff." "Everybody was excited when the Dillon store came to Colby .because they were able to get more produce and other merchandise. Our local merchants do the best they can, but they may not be as important to a supplier as a Dillon store," Gatlin said. Ayre thinks he has beat the isolation problem, which for him surfaced when another grocery store owner in McDonald, 9 miles away, asked to purchase merchandise from his store. The McDonald grocery had been dropped by its supplier. Ayre, who stocks his shelves with inventory from Affiliated Foods in Nebraska, agreed and it wasn't long before other store owners started caUing. Now, tractor-trailer trucks loaded with merchandise from Nebraska pull into Bird City twice a week. From there, groceries go to the other stores. Nine are serviced once a week, and stores in Lenora and Selden receive Food providers A grocery in Bird City provides food to nine rural Kansas stores (and three rural Nebraska stores) cheaper than the stores can get it elsewhere. Here are the Kansas stores served by Ayre's Market: McDonald] I Lenora | CHEYENNE deliveries from Bird City twice a week. "They lost a supplier and we filled a niche," Ayre said. "We can wholesale merchandise cheaper than they can buy it from the bigger suppliers." Ayre has 13 full- and part-time employees who do double duty by working in his grocery store and for the delivery business. Wife Anita helps. Son Dyrek, who was graduated from Fort Hays State University with a degree in commercial art and computer design, has charge of three departments. Dyrek's wife, Bianca, has a beauty shop in the building and helps with the grocery store during breaks from her business. Dyrek and Bianca have been married for a little more than a year. The other three Ayre children live in southern Kansas and Nebraska. Don Ayre has owned the Bird City store for almost 15 years. He was raised on the east side of Detroit, Mich, and moved to the Great Plains when he was in the military. "I loved it because I didn't know much of anything else," he said of his younger years in the big city. "Now I wouldn't go back for nothing. Small towns are a wonderful place to raise children. In that respect, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by a lot." FULLER'S Auto & TVuck Recycling Center """"•••I PARTS •»w? r " ; Locating Service To 49 States We can help you find almost anything you need for your car including hard to find parts for older models. Let us help you... 501 E. 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