Photo by Chad Koenen
Mills Country Market has underwent a number of recent updates at the locally-owned grocery store, including resurfacing the parking lot and installing new decorative artwork outside.

By Chad Koenen


As many small town grocery stores continue to struggle to stay afloat, Tim Muehler and the staff at Mills Country Market are not only focusing on the immediate day-to-day operation of the locally owned grocery store, but are also looking to the future as well. Over the past few years Muehler has made several major upgrades at the grocery store including changing to LED lighting, replacing the produce and milk coolers, new flooring, a new bakery case, a new parking lot and even adding more space to offer things like New York Mills Eagle clothing, additional snack items and basic items like greeting cards.

The goal has always been to make Mills Country Market a one-stop shop for all of their customers needs, while also offering the best product at the best price possible. For example, the new produce cooler not only provides additional items on the shelf, but keeps the produce fresher for even longer due to its new design and energy efficiency. 

Currently Muehler is looking into a state grant to replace even more aging coolers at the grocery store that will provide a better product more efficiently. Since the coolers are beginning to show their age, getting replacement parts is beginning to be a challenge, if not nearly impossible. While he wants to continue making upgrades at the grocery store, grants are needed in a number of cases to offset rising costs of new coolers.

In addition to providing a better product with more shelf life, the new coolers are more energy efficient, which can have a positive impact on future utility bills down the road as well.

Since taking over the grocery store from Dean Simpson approximately seven years ago, Muehler has put a focus on continuing the family-owned and small town aspect of the grocery store, where many people are greeted by their first name when they walk through the doors. As the only grocery store within 10-15 miles of NY Mills, the store has an importance in the community that provides fresh and healthy food in a town of 1,200 people. 

After all, without Mills Country Market the community of NY Mills would be considered a food dessert as there wouldn’t be easy access to healthy and quality food in the community.

“People who can’t drive wouldn’t have access to food,” he said. “They would have to go to Perham or Wadena.”

The grocery store still offers free delivery throughout the immediate NY Mills area on Wednesdays and brings items out to the vehicles of customers, as opposed to making people load their own vehicle with groceries. And unlike many big box stores, there isn’t a single self check out in sight as customers can simply sit back, catch their breath and wait as a staff member does all the scanning for them.

While the community support has been good over the years, Muehler said competing with some of the big box stores just down the road has been a challenge. It can become difficult for some independently owned grocery stores to compete with all of the prices from some of the larger chain establishments, but Mills Country Market keeps its prices as low as possible to attract buyers from across the region.

“Going against big box stores is very difficult for a small town grocery store, but we appreciate all of the support we do get,” he said.

Inside the store, Muehler has made several additions over the past year or so, including selling products by locally owned businesses, including Design’s by Tes. Now customers can pick up a loaf of bread and a half dozen roses to bring home in one stop. 

In order to say thank you and provide a fun way to end the first month of summer, Mills Country Market will be hosting the annual Miller St. Block Party with Twilight James Entertainment and Centennial Realty on Friday, June 28. The night will feature live music, burgers, root beer floats, Canoe Paddle Kettle corn on location, as well as a variety of games and activities.

Artist Shawn McCann will once again be in the area to create a custom 3-D image in the parking lot. McCann has been working on a Canvas Convergence project in the Twin Cities area and can be found art #shawnmccann

Mills Country Market is open seven days a week and is located at 113 Miller St. in NY Mills.