The Lake Benton grocery store. The Bolt family: Bill, Kelly, Hunter and Cora. Inside the Lake Benton grocery store.

Bolts purchasing Lake Benton Grocery

•Police Chief will remain as head of Minneota Police Department

Bill and Kelly Bolt took a major step toward buying Lake Benton Grocery, signing a purchase agreement last Tuesday. Bill Bolt, the Minneota Police Chief for the past five years, insists that he fully intends on finishing his law enforcement career and has six years before he can retire.

"We will continue to live in Minneota until I retire," he said. "The grocery store is a dream of my wife, and I am supportive of her in this endeavor." Kelly has worked retail for around 15 years in various capacities for both large and small businesses.

She has done everything from stocking shelves to ordering merchandise to being a department manager. Kelly first learned that Lake Benton Grocery was up for sale when she saw it on Facebook. The idea of owning her own business intrigued her enough that she visited the store 35 miles southwest of Minneota.

"I’m very excited because it has always been my dream to run my own business where I get to work with people and make them happy," Kelly said. "I enjoy helping people find the things they need, talk to them about their lives and family, and to build relationships."

That doesn't mean that she is as cool as a grocery store cucumber about the upcoming transition. "I’m nervous, worried, excited and scared all at the same time," she admitted.

"But we are in constant prayer and have asked the Lord to lead and protect us. Leaning on Him has certainly helped in this process."

Al and Tami Trigg have owned the Lake Benton Grocery for the past six years.

"They made some great improvements to the store when they purchased it," said Bill. "They are only selling it because they both have full-time careers."

The Triggs didn't want to see the town lose its only grocery store, so they purchased it to continue the tradition.

"We hope to take it to the next level," Bill said.

"The name will remain the same because it is about the community and not about us. The current owners have been great to work with, are very supportive, and informative."

Lake Benton Grocery was remodeled five years ago. The full-service grocery store on main street includes a bakery, floral, produce, meat, and deli.

The Bolts said the process of purchasing an existing business has been an eye-opening experience. "As for paperwork, it started with due diligence by reviewing the financials of the business, creating a business plan, and determining what would be needed to be most successful," Bill revealed.

"These things include licenses, contracts with suppliers, and much more."

With the purchase agreement signed, the Bolts are in the process of finalizing the financing for the business.

"This process has been made much easier thanks to the help and efforts or mentors and advisors," Bill said.

"If it wasn't for their expertise, we would be blindly trying to navigate this process."

The Bolts are currently working toward a March 1 closing date. With many small town businesses struggling to show a profit, the Bolts have relied on the assistance of Brad Minnehan, the owner of Brad's Market in Minneota.

"Brad has been a great resource and mentor," said Bill. "We plan to work closely with him and seek his advice and guidance." The current staff at Lake Benton Grocery will likely remain in place once the Triggs pass the torch to the Bolts.

"There are some extremely knowledgeable and talented staff currently working for Lake Benton Grocery," said Bill. "Kelly is very committed to keeping the existing staff and building a strong team."

Kelly will be the primary manager, meat cutter, worker, janitor, and anything else that is needed, Bill noted. "Our short term plan is to increase the services and offerings in the meat department," he said.

"Kelly learned to cut meat at Brad’s Market in Minneota, and we see the meat department as something that the community values and wants."

The Bolts have been married for 22 years and have two children; Hunter, 21, who is currently in the U.S. Air Force in Arizona; and Cora, 17, a full-time PSEO student at Minnesota West. Kelly is a native of Tehachapi, CA, while Bill is originally from Bakersfield, CA.

"It is also our hope to create an opportunity for our daughter, Cora, to gain business and life experience," Bill said, "and to have the opportunity to take over the business if that becomes her dream."

For the inaugural year of ownership, Kelly is planning to commute to Lake Benton. In subsequent years, she hopes to convert any available space in the building that houses the grocery store into a studio apartment so she has a place to stay after a long work day or if there is inclement weather.

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