Posted 6/07/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The City of Ray may partner with a buyer to purchase the Jack and Jill grocery store in the Ray Mall.
If the deal is signed, the store may get a new lease on life, including longer hours and a new meat department.
Ken Jedneak, who owns a Jack and Jill store in Watford City, is proposing to buy the 5,000-square foot grocery store, and the city wants to help him do it.
“It seems like a nice community,” he said.
The interest of the city commission is for Ray to continue to maintain a grocery store, generating sales tax for the city and maintaining an important anchor business at the mall.
According to the proposal the commission discussed last Wednesday at a special meeting, the city would enter into a contract for deed agreement, paying the store’s current owner, Aldean Landro, $30,000 a year for five years.
In turn, Jedneak would sign a lease-to-buy agreement with the city, with terms of $1,250 a month for 10 years.
“It would take the city out of the landlord in the long run,” Commissioner Troy Kupper explained at the special meeting.
Jedneak is also investing $100,000 of his own money for improvements to the store. This will include an electronic cashier scanner, credit card machines, new coolers, and other items to bring it into the modern era.
The city is also discussing as part of the agreement loaning Jedneak up to $100,000 on an invoice reimbursement schedule for the improvements.
Jedneak would then pay the loan back at $1,000 a month, on top of the $1,250 a month on the lease.
He would also be responsible for a $750 mall fee, which covers utilities and maintenance of the mall. He would have the option to pay off the lease and loan early without penalty.
Though, the earliest he could pay off the lease would be five years, since the city would not actually own the store until the last of the $30,000 annual payments are made.
Jedneak has over 25 years in the grocery store business.
“I’ve worked it all my life,” he said.
He came to the Bakken from Minnesota to purchase the Jack and Jill in Watford City.
Kupper said it isn’t easy making the business work in competition with the Cash Wise in the city, but Jedneak continues to operate the store.
Kupper said this demonstrated his business savvy.
“He’s got some tenacity,” Kupper said, speaking after the meeting.
Lot of work
Jedneak said he sees a lot of opportunity for the store in Ray with the right investment. He isn’t certain what new services will be offered until the plans become more concrete, but he wants to bring back a meat department and expand the hours to 8 p.m. He would also be open on Sunday, which he said would be imperative to the store’s success.
“It’s a lot of work, but we’ll get her done,” he said.
Kupper said the $150,000 asking price for the store is in line with an appraisal that was done a few months ago when Commissioner Mary Smith purchased the insurance business at the mall.
Based on the per square foot value of that appraisal, the store is worth $160,000.
The commission only voted at the special meeting to authorize the city’s lawyer to draw up a contract outlining the details of the agreement and the repercussions to the lesee should he not meet his obligations.