A Message to Our Community
Lost River Market and Deli is looking forward to a great Thanksgiving season with you. You can receive your fresh Bowman and Landes turkeys, and purchase baking supplies and Thanksgiving meal side ingredients just like you have for the last 16 years.
After the holiday we will turn our attention to pausing Lost River Market in its current form. The fact that Lost River just celebrated its 16th year in business is due to your support and willingness to invest in local products and services. Your investment and shopping support means that grocery dollars stay here in Orange County. Local vendors and producers are able to expand their local markets and experiment with new products. Lost River Market grew into an important gathering space where you could meet your friends and neighbors, share a great meal or listen to live local music, surrounded by local arts and crafts. These were the goals when Lost River Market opened 16 years ago.
The only thing Lost River Market did not do in its 16 years is become profitable. During the last few months the store's aging equipment has taken a beating from the tornado, power surges and other stresses. The cost of fixing outdated equipment seems prohibitive. They will be removed by the original vendor for “buy back” and refurbished for a new life elsewhere.
The continuing stresses of finding, training and adequately compensating employees to staff the store and serve you mounted up. The continuing inability to cover operating expenses requires a re-envisioning, and a new sense of purpose to fulfill our original commitment to our community.
In these last 16 years Lost River Market expanded its activities as a food hub which may not be visible in the store. It has increased its efforts to purchase and gather product from local vendors. It increased its efforts to distribute those additional products to new customers in different ways outside the walls of the store. A local, aggregated Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) served over 50 households in its largest year. Over 1000 mealkits were packaged and delivered in 2023, our fifth year of working with Purdue Extension educators and IU Center for Rural Engagement through the Food as Medicine program. Local produce was offered at three new farmstands as an experiment. The most successful, Crawford County Farmstand, provided local fresh produce, weekly to customers in English who could not easily procure local seasonal produce.
These programs, plus a market offering local products and a community gathering space need to continue. So, here is the plan: The operation of Lost River Market will pause in December, 2023. Steps are being taken now to form a non-profit 501c3 entity. Lost River Market will be restructured and the space reshaped to a mini-market focusing on local products with the deli/cafe, by March, 2024...in plenty of time to participate in the April 2024 Eclipse events. The non-profit entity will continue the aggregation and distribution of local food with CSA's, Food as Medicine and farmstand distribution. Maybe there will be new programs such as meals for the elderly, for neighborhoods. Maybe cooking classes or activities such as the Baking Together program of this fall. The 501(c)3 status will allow the community to take advantage of grants promoting the distribution of local and healthy food to more people, more of our neighbors.
During the restructuring and renovation please be patient. Ask questions. Volunteer to help. We need board members and volunteers to guide the work of becoming a non-profit. We need volunteers in the food distribution programs already planned. This endeavor truly does need your ongoing support. Share your suggestions, participate in upcoming visioning meetings and conversations, volunteer to help change our space to match that vision.
We appreciate the support of our community partners who helped Lost River Market through the years – Orange County Community Foundation, Orange County Economic Development Partners, Southern Indiana Community Health Care, Paoli Presbyterian Church, our financial partners, IU – Center for Rural Engagement, Bloomingfoods and so many more.
But mostly we are indebted to you – members and shoppers who felt strongly enough about local business to support Lost River through the years.
Orange County Cooperative Development Corporation
Board of Directors
Lost River Market and Deli Management Team