The old DeVilliers building in downtown Lanesboro continues to be the site of Lanesboro Local until Jan. 31. At that time, the building will provide space for a new, privately-owned grocery store.  ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
The old DeVilliers building in downtown Lanesboro continues to be the site of Lanesboro Local until Jan. 31. At that time, the building will provide space for a new, privately-owned grocery store. ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
With the closing of Lanesboro Local on Jan. 31, the number of options for purchasing grocery items in Lanesboro would have gone down to zero had it not been for Phil and Heidi Dybing. The owners of the DeVilliers building decided the concept of shopping organic and local was one that should persist in the town after the Lanesboro Local Board of Directors decided to end its non-profit marketplace presence in town.

"There have been a lot of people that have wanted a grocery store for quite some time," said Phil. "This is a likely time to make this happen."

The last time the city had a privately owned grocery store was in 2008. The Dybings hope the newest attempt will help Lanesboro become, as their store name touts, Beste Byen, a good town.

Once the doors close on Lanesboro Local, Beste Byen management and staff will have until Thursday, Feb. 6, to get the new store set. When the doors open, they will feature familiar people and products. Current employees Kristin Eggen, Enid Dunn and Jennifer Olson will continue to greet and help customers. Eggen will be the store manager.

As for products, the Dybings said it won't be a conventional grocery store as the emphasis will remain on locally produced and sourced organic food items. Kappers' Milk, Liz Belina's Greens, Healthy Heritage Meats, Norseland Lefse, among others, will remain.

They will carry, as Phil explained, basic food items to start along with bulk nuts and chocolates through Bergin Fruit and Nut Company of St. Paul. Over time, they hope to be able to expand what they offer, but will do so while keeping in mind financial and environmental sustainability.

"We want to provide very healthy foods and get by with minimal packaging," stated Heidi. She added that they hope to be able to place special orders for customers.

February hours for Beste Byen will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Hours in successive months are to be determined.

Heidi also said they would consider ideas on what should be included in the store. This feedback, along with transaction records, will help the Dybings determine how the store will evolve and change products.

In addition to providing a grocery store, the Dybings have also considered how they could promote community through the building as well. Currently, the second story of the building has an art gallery featuring local artists. Though they aren't sure exactly what the upstairs space will continue to be used for, the Dybings have a few ideas including another gallery or a meeting/small event place.

"There are so many potential things to do up there," Heidi remarked mentioning that the space probably wouldn't be used until April. The two windows at the front of store on the ground floor will continue to have artists' smaller works displayed.

There are still plenty of decisions to be made, but Eggen says she sees it all working out to become a place where the essence of a vibrant community can be found.

"Food is so powerful," she said, adding that she was keeping her mind open to opportunities and expecting the store to grow.

"It's time for rebirth again," Heidi said, talking about the opportunity the entire town of Lanesboro has before them. She noted the need to fill the several empty buildings downtown with viable businesses.

"This whole first year will be a learning experience," she added, while expressing gratitude that she, Phil and their "fantastic staff" were able to keep things going.

Beste Byen, a good town, will be the result if they succeed.