DALTON -- Scott Borcher wants the community to decide the future of the Hometown Market store in Dalton.

Borcher is the owner of the store in Dalton. A community meeting was held Sunday to discuss options for Borcher to transition out of the store. The meeting was held to discuss options on possible community ownership or a co-operative store.

Cindy Houlden, Cooperative Business Development Specialist, Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, spoke to community members present. She said Borcher contacted her in the fall of 2022.

"He doesn't want the store to not exist," Houlden said.

She said community ownership can have advantages such as partnering with school business programs, work experience for all ages, 24-hour availability to co-op members and the store stocked with what the community wants and needs.

She stressed that if a buyer approaches Borcher, sole-proprietorship is always an option.

The question no one at the meeting could fully answer is how well the community would support a community or co-op store. Houlden said a survey was sent to the Dalton and Gurley communities with 50 responses returned. She said of the 50 responses, 27 said they would be interested in investing in the store but want to know more.

Borcher said he needs $97,000 for the market. Houlden suggested the community should expect to invest about $150,000, including initial operating expenses, to open the store under community ownership. Houlden said there are several options for funding the purchase of the marketplace. Grants may be available if the community works with a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Houlden said a local market is part of what keeps people in a community. 

The target transition is June 2023.

Borcher has been the sole-proprietor of the store for about two years.