GACKLE, N.D.-When the option is to drive 40 miles to the nearest city, many Gackle area residents say they appreciate a local bulk fuel co-op for providing a unique convenience store.
The Gackle CO-OP Oil Co. has expanded twice to accommodate grocery, hardware and retail items in addition to the gas, bulk fuel and auto-repair service, said Teresa Remboldt, manager. It is a welcomed service for the town of 300 and the surrounding farmers, she said.
"Expanding the grocery store has been a great thing," Remboldt said. "The new coolers and the new freezers have added a lot to the store."
There is a grocery store in Streeter, which is about a 30-mile round trip, and shopping in Jamestown is about an 80-mile round trip, she said. If someone just needs an item or two it's nice to know there is still a store in town, she said.
"We need that in town because that is about all we have left," said Keith Kuhn of Gackle. "I've had people come from other towns who said, 'no they wouldn't have that (product) here,' and she actually has it, parts for trucks and everything."
Area farmers formed the cooperative bulk fuel station in 1948. Like many North Dakota towns, Gackle's grocers and stores were gone by 2007, she said. The co-op, which is also a Cenex gas station, is at the busy intersection of N.D. Highways 46 and 56, she said.
The co-op started with simple groceries and farm supplies and over time added dry goods, frozen and perishables, hardware, plumbing, outdoors and various retail items, Remboldt said.
"We have a lot of stuff here," she said. "It's quite gratifying to be able to help people out."
As a "last-minute" shopping place, customers can find the milk, car batteries, tennis balls and children's puzzles to be a few feet away from chain, rope, shotgun shells and hunting supplies. People who call are sometimes surprised to hear that the store carries some things, she said.
"Our motto is if we don't have it you don't need it," Remboldt said.
Remboldt was an employee of the co-op since the 1980s and became manager in 2002. She and the mechanic and a bulk driver are the full-time employees along with three part-time store employees.
The profit margin from the store and the adjoining auto repair shop have helped keep the co-op going as the bulk fuel delivery costs are competitive, she said.
"I try to keep prices down," Remboldt said. "We're here to serve the community."