Focus 2019: Celebrating Hometown Pride

By ERIKA PRITCHARD Hub Regional/Image Editor SHELTON — The grocery business is in Larry, Joe and Riley’s blood. Larry Brannagan of Shelton, Joe Kowalski of Loup City and Riley Space of Minden all have worked in the grocery business since they were boys. Now grown men, they own and operate their own grocery markets — Larry’s Market in Shelton, Joe’s Market in Loup City and Mason’s Supermarket in Minden. The men also have watched other gro- cery stores close during the past several decades in their small communities, but their businesses still are standing. They talked with the Kearney Hub about changes in the grocery business, overcoming challenges and what makes their stores special. Larry’s Market in Shelton, population 1,060 Brannagan, 55, said he grew up in his dad’s Wood River grocery store, Mr. B’s. Brannagan’s father, the late Larry Brannagan Sr., bought the grocery store in 1980 when Brannagan was a sophomore in high school. Larry Sr. sold the store 35 years later. “I just worked alongside him and we kind of learned together,” Branna- gan said. “We both learned how to cut meat … really everything to do with a grocery store.” Brannagan enjoyed the work and need- ed extra money, so he spent as much time learning and working at the store, even when he was attending Kearney State College, now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. One day, a Shelton grocer, Darwin Wicht, asked Brannagan if he was interested in buying his store. And the rest is history. Brannagan and his wife, Joanne, are in their 32nd year of running Larry’s Market in the 1888 building that sits on Shel- ton’s main street. They sell a full line of groceries, including produce, dairy and meats, which Larry butchers on site. The store doesn’t offer a deli or alcohol. “But other than that, I would like to think we have everything,” Brannagan said. Larry’s Market products aren’t priced as low as Walmart, Brannagan said, but he believes they’re “decently priced.” “We run our specials all the time and Bigger than paper or plastic Loup City, Minden, Shelton grocery stores find ways to compete with the bigger cities’ convenience that lures away potential customers “We love our jobs. We love working here. We love the people…” Larry Brannagan GROCERY STORES, PAGE 2 FO U S Boutiques let you buy close to home. Page 4 CELEBRATING HOMETOWN PRIDE 2019 KEARNEY HUB • SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2019 AUDRA PETERSON’S infant and toddler clothing business, Mulberry Jane, is headquartered in a basement sewing room in her family’s farmhouse northwest of Funk. The home-based business allows her to balance time at work and time with her husband and two young sons. By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer FUNK —Audra Peterson can think of only one thing she would have done differently when launching her home-based, handmade infant and toddler clothing business, Mulberry Jane, in November 2016. “I really wish I would have started it earlier,” Peterson said, finding the words difficult to speak, so that her mom, Lana Hollertz, could have seen it. Her mom died of bile duct can- cer on Sept. 18, 2016, at age 62. “She was very crafty. All of her clothes in high school, she made,” Peterson said. “I have memories of sewing with Mom when I was really young.” Sewing and clothing design remained Peterson’s passions. As a Holdrege High School sophomore, Peterson attended a fashion workshop at the Chicago Institute of Design, where she learned about drawing human figures and clothing. “I wanted to go there to school, but it was very expensive, some- thing like $80,000 a year for two years,” she said. Instead, she attended the Uni- versity of Nebraska-Lincoln for two years after high school. She focused on graphic design one year and on advertising the other, before deciding the campus was a little too big. She transferred to the Universi- ty of Nebraska at Kearney, from which she graduated in May 2012 in business marketing. All those interests and skill sets prepared Peterson for her current business headquartered in a basement sewing room in the farmhouse northwest of Funk that had been her in-laws’ home. Her husband, Michael, is a farmer and they have two sons, Arden, 3, and Bennett, 6 months. Although she is only 30, Mul- berry Jane is Peterson’s second business. In 2012, she launched Sorella Vintage, an antique and vintage home decor business, with one of her three older sisters, Lexie Frahm of Gretna. Their concept was to find buyers at craft shows and through sales in a few Nebras- ka craft stores for original or repurposed old items they bought at estate and garage sales. Lexi continues to operate Sorel- la Vintage. Peterson decided to stay home more after Arden was born in February 2016 and her mother became ill. “I had seven months of just me and Mom going to (can- cer) treatments and being with her in her home,” Peterson said about Lori Potter, Kearney Hub Home-based and handmade Mulberry Jane’s Peterson near Funk specializes in one-of-a-kind children’s clothes MULBERRY JANE, PAGE 9 MASON’S SUPERMARKET is the last grocery store standing in Minden, population 2,900. Minden’s 5th Street IGA closed several years ago. AT LEFT, Joe’s Market owner, Joe Kowalski, tripled the size of his grocery store when he took ownership of the former Ray’s Market in 1994. Erika Pritchard, Kearney Hub JOE KOWALSKI, 61, has owned and oper- ated Joe’s Supermarket in Loup City since 1994. Kowalski started working in the grocery business when he was a teenager in 1974. LARRY BRANNAGAN , 55, started working as a teenager for his father’s Wood River grocery store. He now is in his 32nd year of owning Larry’s Market in Shelton. RILEY SPACE , 30, is a third generation grocer. The Space family has owned Mason’s Super- market for 57 years. MATT CAVANAUGH of Minden shops for produce at Mason’s Supermarket in Minden last month. Cavanaugh has shopped his entire life at the locally-owned grocery store. Ravenna Super Foods also faced challenges. Page 11 LARRY’S MARKET in Shelton is in an 1888 building and sits on Shelton’s main street.

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