By Kris Leonhardt
GREENWOOD — The only grocery store in Greenwood, Mayville’s Market, has closed, leaving another small town without the benefits of a hometown grocer.
For the past decade, David Mayville has owned and operated the store in Greenwood’s downtown.
“I bought the store 10 years ago in January. Before that it was the Greenwood IGA, and it was owned by John and Charlotte Scholze. Prior to John and Charlotte, it was owned by Bob and Caryl Solberg. They also had the store in Neillsville.
“Prior to that, it was owned by Copps Corporate, possibly in conjunction with Norm Mayenschein, who built it in 1988.”
Before purchasing the store, Mayville was a wholesale supervisor for Kehe Foods, and he has spent his entire working career in the food/grocery industry, dating back to his first job as a clerk in the Bonduel IGA at the age of 16.
“As a sales supervisor for Kehe, I was setting up new territory and met John and Charlotte,” recalled Mayville. “I admired the store. It was in a rural community similar to what I was raised in. I told John that someday I would like to have a setup similar to this.
“His wife was graduating from college, and they were ready to move on, so we started to deal, and I bought it.”
After 10 years in the community, changing population and other economic factors have affected Mayville’s business, like so many other small-town stores, forcing Mayville to close the doors.
According to the Center for Rural Affairs, in 2000 the average population needed to maintain a rural grocery store was 2,843. By 2005 it was up to 3,252. Greenwood has a population of 1,026.
The advent of corporate chain stores and local distribution centers has created cheaper prices in urban communities, and commuting for jobs has left the option of larger stores more appealing. Coupled with the rising costs of operation, the demographics leave little opportunity for a small-town store.
“There were at one time four or five grocery stores here in Greenwood,” said Mayville. “It’s not just the grocery stores (disappearing). Look what is happening to newspapers. Look what is happening to the consolidation of post offices, schools, shrinking churches. It is happening all around us. It’s a matter of population, economy, and rising costs — a lot of factors involved. It’s not just humans deciding to do something else.
“I’ve seen the economy go full circle in a lot of small towns. It hasn’t ruined my entrepreneurial spirit. I do realize that people need to be a visionary these days when they are getting ready to seek an endeavor.”