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A major inconvenience: Closure of Kandiyohi's convenience store leaves town no place to fuel up

KANDIYOHI -- When the Kandiyohi Fire Department needs to fuel up its fleet of trucks, the firefighters have to drive four miles to Willmar. If the small town's public works department workers need gas for lawnmowers or other equipment, they have to drive to Willmar to fill up a gas can.

"It's a hardship on the city. We have to run to Willmar to get gas," said City Clerk Sue Kidrowski. "We're only four miles. But that four miles is four miles."

The scenario is repeated for residents needing a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. It's especially difficult for elderly people who don't drive but have always walked to the store, said Kidrowski. The whole town is feeling the pinch of the closure last month of the Kandi-Konnection, a gas station, convenience store and liquor store.

"It is an inconvenience for everybody," said Kidrowski. "It is something that affects every citizen."

The owner of the business, Steve Laplant of Annandale, said he was forced to close the business due to significant losses on the store's ATM machine during the year while he was out of state attending to his wife's mother who was dying.

With help from the store manager, for whom Laplant had high praise, the store recouped some of its losses. But additional ATM losses recently forced the store closing and cost 10 to 12 people their jobs.

With $1.3 million in sales last year, Laplant said the store can be profitable. He was able to "weather the storm" when gas prices flew up and down. But he said his ATM losses put him behind the eight-ball and he was unable to pay for another tanker of gas to be delivered.

"It's just snowballed," he said. "It's partially my fault for not being on site."

He said he'd like to keep the store and is looking for a partner who's willing to invest $35,000.

Kidrowski said she's heard that people are interested and are looking at the business. "We hope somebody can get in there," she said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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