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Lake Grocery Sets Sights on New Walk-Ins

By Kristin Brekke Vandersnick
WLHS Class of 1997
President, Willow Lake Area Advancement

I continue to be impressed by our town’s terrific grocery store, how the team there keeps it clean, organized, and well-stocked with essentials and more. Deb and her crew certainly make our job as Willow Lake Area Advancement (WLAA) board members easy! They truly take care of everything as if it were their own.

If you’ve been in lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed the new produce cooler—the latest

in our lineup of upgraded equipment. Since WLAA took on Lake Grocery as a

community-owned store in June of 2010, would you believe we’ve made $43,500

in upgrades? This includes the new 5-door freezer and new furnace with central air

in 2012, the new 5-door dairy cooler in 2014, and now the new produce cooler

this August. This total does not include the local donation to cover the remodel of

the front façade, which was an amazing gift coinciding with the Main Street renovation post-fire and pre- 100th alumni gathering.


Who's ready for ice cream?

The good news is we’ve replaced the majority of the old refrigeration equipment in the retail portion of the store—only the old freezers for ice cream and pizza remain. The bad news, however, is that the walk-in freezer and cooler in the back of the store are in rough shape. As much as we’d like to get a new display freezer for pizza and ice cream right away (and, by the way, even as a proud Augustana graduate, I have a personal goal of us stocking half-gallons of SDSU ice cream once we have the new equipment!) it’s become apparent that the walk-ins need our attention sooner rather than later. The walk-ins are essential for storage, and unfortunately their status can best be described as “just limping by.”

The cost is a bit daunting; a new walk-in cooler and freezer, similar in size to what’s there now, could run us about $30,000. This is the first estimate we’ve gotten, so we’re hoping that additional research will help us identify options that are less costly but equally as high-quality. We sure appreciate the help of Willow Lake natives Mark Lamb and Jim Pommer, our friends in the refrigeration business, who are extremely helpful anytime we have questions!


Here comes “the ask”

So, now, turning back to our title: “Lake Grocery Sets Sights on New Walk-Ins.” I resisted the urge to title this “Lake Grocery’s in a Pickle,” as a reference to our fundraising pickle jar, because I don’t want to give the impression that there’s any sort of crisis. There is not. Things are going well, and we are so thankful for everyone who is so faithful to shop at the store! But, to help us achieve this goal of updating our walk-in cooler and freezer, we are going to need the community’s help—thus, the return of the pickle jar on the Lake Grocery checkout counter.


If you are so inclined, Willow Lake Area Advancement would gladly and with much appreciation accept your donation

in the pickle jar at Lake Grocery, or by mailing it to us at: Post Office Box 322, Willow Lake SD, 57278.

Note “equipment fund” on the memo line of checks, made out to Willow Lake Area Advancement or WLAA.


Because WLAA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization recognized by the State of South Dakota and by the IRS, your charitable donations are indeed tax-deductible. If you would like a receipt, please make note of that when making your donation, or contact me, Lake Grocery manager Deb Holmstrom, or our WLAA treasurer Julayne Thoreson. I’m available any time for questions, at home (605-625-2534) or via email (


Another kind of “walk in”

My article title does have a dual meaning. We’re seeking new walk-in equipment, yes, but we’re also always on the lookout for new “walk-ins,” as in “shoppers.” We are so grateful for community donations when we need to make equipment updates, but another—and perhaps the best—way to help the store is to simply do your shopping here. That goes for any local business. Do you enjoy having this (fill-in-the-blank: grocery store / gas station / grain elevator) conveniently located in your community? If “yes,” then patronize it. It’s truly the best gift you can give your community!


If you shop at Lake Grocery already, thank you! If you haven’t tried us yet, come on in and check it out! The specials you’ll find in our sales flyer are especially good. And if there’s something you buy regularly but we don’t stock, please tell us! Deb is more than happy to help whenever possible with special orders or new items. The list of products she can access through our suppliers is nearly endless! Front-row parking, personal service, and accommodating staff are just a few of the perks of small-town places.


So, to conclude, Lake Grocery is not “in a pickle,” but we do appreciate your help in making sure we come out ahead at the end of the year and have enough in our Equipment Fund to pursue the new walk-in cooler and freezer we need. This community has been wonderful in its support of Lake Grocery, and we as the WLAA board of directors cannot thank you enough!

Willow Lake, South Dakota

Hometown News from a Small Town with Big Spirit

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