24/7 self-service grocery store thrives in small town in Minnesota

EVANSVILLE, Minnesota. – A number of small towns in Minnesota have lost grocery stores over the years, creating inconvenience for residents, and some food desert. But the Douglas County couple think they’ve found a solution.

Lost a grocery store in Evansville five years ago. One that has been in the city for 60 years.

“We heard from people: “Damn, it would be nice to open a store in the city again. We miss it so much,” said Caylin Ostenson. “Especially with rising gas prices, people want to stay local, buy local.”

But Kaylin Ostenson and her husband, Alex Ostenson, knew that the traditional grocery store would not take root in a city of 600 people. Also, wanting to find a place to buy milk or bread late at night, they came up with the DIY concept. For a $75 annual membership, you can access the Main Street Market any time of the day or night.

“After that first week and having over 50 members in the first week, there was an agreement that this was what the community needed,” said Alex Ostenson.

It works the same as a 24/7 fitness room. You can use the keychain to get in or you can use the app on your phone to get access.

There is a self-checkout where customers can scan and pay for their products.

“We also have another app on your phone where you scan and pay directly from your phone and walk out the door,” said Caylin Ostenson.

The Ostensons have cameras throughout the store and can also monitor what’s happening on their home computer. But they believe that their clients are honest. And membership continues to grow.

“It’s really convenient. I’m glad they have something here to get something from. It’s really convenient,” said client John Toenns.

“I really hope that we can spread this model and we can really see small towns flourish again,” said Alex Ostenson.

Alex and Caylin Ostenson are in the store about three days a week, otherwise the customers are left to their own devices. They also offer a 3-month membership for lodge lovers and a 6-month membership for snowbirds.