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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hard times eased by hometown customers

Thursday, April 30, 2009

(Photo)
Sutherland residents can easily find the Hometown Variety and Main Market in downtown with their sign selling what's on the inside. Photo by Sarah Gengler
Sometimes being a small town business owner isn't easy, but on most occasions it provides a satisfaction for helping people that can't be beat.

Sharon Litka, owner of Main Market and Hometown Variety, can relate to both, especially with the struggling economy and higher expenses.

"Business was better when the gas prices were high and this winter when we had snow storms," she chuckled.

(Photo)
Susan Hinspeter, full time employee at Main Market, prices groceries to go on the shelves at that market. Hinspeter is one of three employees that the market has for full time staff. Photo by Sarah Gengler
Obviously there isn't always a snow storm to provide more business so Litka does what she can to get customers through her doors. She has been the owner of the grocery store since 1997 and in 2005, after L & E Variety closed in 2004, she added on a 25x100 addition in order to open Hometown Variety.

"Customers wanted and needed a variety store," Litka said. "They wanted basic office supplies, some toys, and seasonal items."

Having both Main Market and Hometown Variety allows Litka to employ three full time staff and five part time staff to help get the work done. Main Market provide fresh and frozen meats, dairy, fruit, canned goods, household products, beer and wine. They also specialize in meat, veggie and fruit trays for all occasions.

(Photo)
Sharon Litka is the owner of Main Market and Hometown Variety found on the main street in downtown Sutherland. Litka sets up a display of Fouth of July pinwheels on the variety store side to get ready for the new holidays. She has owned the grocery store since 1997 and added the variety store in July 2005. Photo by Sarah Gengler
Customers can also find some craft items, fabric and 99 cent greeting cards inside Litka's store. Hometown Variety uses the same distributor as Ben Franklin stores, known as Variety Distributing Incorporated (VDI) out of Harlan, Iowa and finds it provides what Sutherland people want.

Even with good help and great customers the stress of running a business can be almost too much. Litka has replaced five compressors in her coolers on five different occasions in her 12 years of business with Main Market. Four out of the five times Litka has had to rely on insurance to cover her loss.

"I've had to just open the cooler and throw out ice cream several times," she said. "Last year was not a good year because of cooler problems."

Thankfully the Sutherland community has been supportive through good times and bad.

"It's a small town and people are pretty understanding when we are down for repairs," she said. "They understand when it isn't fixed in just a couple of hours. I really need to say a special thank you to our regulars ... they are what keep it going."



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