RED WING — One way or another, Kevin Florine will not be the owner and operator of Buchanan Grocery in Red Wing for much longer.
If you'd asked him a week or 10 days ago, Florine would have told you he was headed toward that self-imposed July 31 closing date. At the age of 68, he no longer feels the drive to run his business, a business that has been in the family since his father, Don, bought the store in 1955.
But the store, which has been for sale since February when Florine announced he planned to call it quits, has drawn some late interest from buyers.
"I've got a couple of real interested prospects in just the last couple of weeks," Florine said. "The store may stay open, and maybe not. We'll know in the next week."
News of a possible sale — and Buchanan remaining open — came as a pleasant surprise for shoppers Thursday.
"It's not very often you can have a store that's locally owned with great prices … and that meat counter," said Molly Marshall, a Red Wing resident who has shopped off and on at Buchanan most of her life. "It's convenient, and the stuffed pork chops are out of this world."
Florine said the recipes for the store's custom meat counter and deli are all part of what he hopes to sell to whomever might buy the store.
"All our different recipes, the potato salad and the sausages and all that, are a different package," he said, adding that the potential buyers "would be interested in the recipes."
Having items that can't be found at the big chain grocers like Walmart and Aldi is part of the reason the store has remained successful, Florine said.
"We've got good sales here," he said. "I haven't gotten rich, but we've done well."
Beverly Glover, another Red Wing resident, said she shops at Buchanan Grocery at least once a week, usually to get her weekly meat list.
"It's the best meat in town," Glover said. "The fresh fish, the salmon is wonderful."
Glover said she likes how a locally owned store is a place where everyone knows you and learns what you like.
"They carry stuff you can't get anywhere else in town," she said. "They really know you."
Patty Brown, executive director of the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, said she's hopeful a way can be found to keep the store open.
"Buchanans has been a well-known part of our community for 96 years," she said. "To lose an established, historic neighborhood business like that really hurts. I hope someone buys it and keeps it open."
When his father first bought Buchanan Grocery in 1955, Florine said there were nearly two dozen neighborhood grocers in Red Wing. Now, there's just a couple.
Even though he'd planned to step away July 31, Florine said he might stay on during a transitional period if a new owner steps up and needs him to bridge the gap. But one way or another, his time owning and running the store will end in the near future.
"I'll miss the relationships with my customers who I grew up with over the years," he said. "As far as the work goes, I can't say I'm going to miss that."
And once he's done?
"People ask me what I'm going to do," Florine said. "I say, 'Nothing.'"