The loss of a cornerstone business in Binford, N.D. in late July has left residents there with no local grocery or hardware store. A situation that the community has set out to remedy.

On July 26, Binford Grocery and Hardware, a combined grocery and hardware store burned down, said John Leininger, president of the Binford Economic Development Corp. The owners of the store, Carol and Doug Rickford, have chosen not to rebuild but instead gave the building site to the Binford EDC.

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"The Rickfords both have full-time jobs," Leininger said. "Carol is a mail carrier and Doug farmed and worked at Edlund Motors. They hired people to work at the store days and worked there themselves evenings and have decided to slow down a bit."

More than 100 people attended a community meeting to discuss the options for the business, Leininger said. They decided to rebuild the grocery/hardware store building and then try to get someone to operate the store.

Fundraising letters were sent to local residents and Binford High School alumni, he said. So far, about $52,000 has been received with more money pledged. The Binford EDC has applied for charitable, nonprofit status which would allow donors to deduct their gifts from their taxes.

And while fundraising continues, construction plans are in the works.

"Our goal is to have the shell of the building up before freeze-up so work can continue inside during the winter," Leininger said.

The proposed structure is 56 feet by 136 feet and is larger than the previous store. The total cost of the entire project, including store fixtures, is $175,000.

"In the old store you couldn't have two shopping carts meet in the aisles," he said. "The building we are planning is a little easier to move around in."

Despite the fact that no date has been set for a groundbreaking ceremony, the Binford EDC has received inquiries from people interested in operating the new business next spring.

"We have had some interest in running it once it's opened," Leininger said. "One person contacted us about the inventory and another said that he had experience in the grocery business."