Plans to bring Dollar General to Milford were in the works for nearly two years before it opened its doors. It was something that Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership President and CEO Jonathan Jank approached Mayor Patrick Kelley about as soon as it became a possibility.
At first Kelley was apprehensive. He didn't want to run the risk of putting local grocery stores out of business. He wanted to meet with the market and grocery store in town before moving forward. Owners of the local Pac 'N' Save were open to selling its building and, with a few hiccups, Dollar General came to fruition. None of the movers and shakers at the time thought they'd be holding the ribbon cutting for the building on Aug. 14, which formally opened two months prior, wearing masks to prevent contracting a pandemic virus. They couldn't have even predicted the sale closing hiccups and building inspection hurdles to clear, let alone a pandemic.
Kelley, Jank, store manager Cindy Ventry, Milford Chamber President Jordon Folkerts and Chamber Vice President Dennis Sugden stood together on that afternoon and performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting, with Ventry slicing into the red ribbon. She came into the equation as soon as she heard the store was coming for certain.
A Colorado Springs, Colorado, native and self-proclaimed city girl, Ventry moved to Milford from Lincoln three years ago to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren in Beaver Crossing. She was a registered nurse for 25 years before getting into retail, working at the JC Penney in Lincoln. During that time she hired and worked with the manager of the Seward Dollar General. They talked about the opportunity and Ventry knew it was one she wanted.
“I was a little leery but I love the community of Milford,” Ventry said. “It's been very friendly, tight-knit and very open community. I'm very happy. It was one of the best things that I did, was move to a small town.”
So she was brought on to manage the Milford location, which found a warm community welcome immediately. Residents found the location convenient for inexpensive groceries, especially milk and eggs, while traveling maintenance workers have stopped at the location for a quick bag of chips or any list of snack items that greet customers when they walk through the door.
Ventry explained that what makes the Milford location unique is the amount of home décor items. Neither the Seward, Crete or Friend locations have a similar selection of decorative items. That's already included Halloween decorations and, if that's not soon enough, Ventry said she's already seen schematics for Christmas decorations.
All of the employees at the Milford location are local.
“That was important for me to start because I wanted them to have the same enthusiasm about having a Dollar General as the community,” Ventry said.
Ventry then told those on hand about people that will come in from Seward and surrounding communities because of the Milford location's selection. It's something different and provides customers an alternative to Walmart.
Employees, per Dollar General policy, have worn masks and gloves for nearly a month now while customers are encouraged, not required, to wear face coverings.