Fire in grocery store sparks new way to keep people fed in Lindstrom

Lindstrom food store closes after fire

Lindstrom food store closes after fire

A local discount food store is stepping up for its customers after a fire forced one of its locations to close. 

Nick and Drew’s Discount Foods in Lindstrom serves many people, including seniors in the area who are without transportation. With that location closed, their next closest store is 30 minutes away in Isanti. 

Tuesday morning, boxes and dumpsters were filled with discarded meat and produce. Thousands of pounds of food were wasted at Nick and Drew’s Discount Foods in Lindstrom. 

The store’s owner, Nick Fowler, called the event ‘overwhelming.’ He said the tragedy started from an overnight fire Tuesday of last week.

“Freezers lit up; we’re thinking it’s electrical. Just decided to burn for hours and smolder all night producing soot, unbelievable,” said Fowler.

All that soot contaminated every single grocery item. 

“So that’s really hard for us. It goes against everything that we believe in to provide affordable foods and reduce food waste,” said Fowler.

Nick and Drew’s is the only affordable food market in the area and one of the only places those without transportation can walk or bike to. 

“There’s also folks that can’t afford that extra $300 a month that now they would have to spend shopping elsewhere,” he said. 

Thousands visit the store weekly, including Barb Eagan of Chisago.

“I thought, what is everybody going to do? Because usually when we come, this parking lot is full. There’s a lot of people that use this,” Eagan said. “I mean, if you can get a little break on your grocery bills, you know it helps out so much.”

Going hungry isn’t an option, instead, Fowler called his friends at 4.0 School Bus Services for help. 

“So we brought up a school bus with a trailer and a driver and we’re going to bring them from here in Lindstrom to Isanti. It’s a half hour away,” said Dan Swanson, transportation director of 4.0 School Services.

Swanson says they’re helping because a lot of people can’t either get to the larger stores far away or they can’t afford to go to some of the stores. 

Customers now have the option to be shuttled to Nick and Drew’s second location in Isanti for free. The shuttle services will be Tuesdays and Thursdays. Riders will load around noon, leave at 12:15 p.m., arrive in Isanti at 1 p.m. to shop for an hour and then leave back for Lindstrom at 2:15 p.m. 

“It doesn’t surprise me that people come together, but it’s amazing when people do,” Eagan said. 

Fowler says the hope is to reopen the Lindstrom location in September.