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Young Couple’s Dream of Owning a Small-Town Business Comes True

The young couple who purchased the grocery store in Sterling, Nebraska is on the receiving end of “thanks” quite often. Residents of the town and surrounding rural area are grateful that Brandon and Shalen Keeler worked it out to purchase the local grocery this past spring.

For financing, the local bank was supportive of the business transfer deal, as well as others, including the previous owners, family members, and REAP. Together these resources and a lot of encouragement from the Keeler’s family and friends helped make the business transfer transaction a reality.

REAP helped the couple piece together a business plan and financial projections. The local bankers reviewed the plan and projections and helped put together a version that they were comfortable with. It took several months of diligent work and persistence on the part of the Keeler’s before the transfer was finalized on June 1, 2005.

Both Brandon and Shalen were employed in Lincoln and commuted about 45 miles every day to work. Brandon also worked on weekends, so he had some ideas on changes that they could implement. They have moved the store shelving around, added a new front counter, and painted the exterior of the building thus far.

They are cooping inventory purchases with The Family Tree grocery in Cook, Nebraska and nearby Sadie’s in Firth, Nebraska. They say the biggest challenge in the business is knowing what their customers want and in keeping good inventory control.

The couple both quit their jobs in the city and are working together to operate the business in Sterling. Sterling is Shalen’s hometown. They say the greatest reward so far is being able to work in Sterling and provide goods and services to local patrons.

Enjoying time with their 5 year old son is their favorite pastime. Brandon is helping as a coach for an elementary basketball team, and he is a basketball referee as well.

Photo shows Shalen and Brandon Keeler in their Sterling, Nebraska grocery store.
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Center for Rural Affairs -- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project
145 Main St.    PO Box 136    Lyons, Nebraska  68038
Voice:  (402) 687-2100       FAX:  (402) 687-2200      E-Mail: REAPinfo@cfra.org