Greensburg Six weeks after a tornado wiped out most of the town, including its only grocery store, residents are waiting to find out whether Dillons will be back.
"That's one of the big concerns for people even thinking of coming in or rebuilding: 'Will we have a grocery store?"' Greensburg business owner Susan Brown said.
Dillons spokeswoman Sheila Lowrie told the Dodge City Daily Globe the Hutchinson-based company hasn't decided whether it will rebuild the Greensburg store. It will make the decision with its parent company, Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.
"We're still continuing to see how plans develop with the city," Lowrie said, adding that Greensburg's estimated returning population will figure into the decision. "Everything from infrastructure to highway location. Those are some of the things we're working with city administrators."
The May 4 tornado packed winds of up to 205 mph, destroyed more than 90 percent of Greensburg and killed 10 people.
The Greensburg Dillons opened in 1967. The nearest place to buy groceries is a combined grocery/hardware store in Haviland, about 10 miles east of Greensburg.
Mayor John Janssen said a grocery store is important for a small town like Greensburg because it functions as an anchor tenant for Main Street and brings people to town.
"The little towns around it that don't have or have very limited grocery facilities, it hurts them. I know it does," he said. "They realize it because they end up having to come to Greensburg."
Tracy Turner, an associate professor of economics at Kansas State University, said uncertainty about Greensburg's future make it difficult to predict what Dillons will do. But she said she thinks someone will announce plans to open a grocery store in Greensburg, although it could be a smaller store.
"My understanding is that Dillons provides a grocery store on a certain scale," she said. "If that's the case, then whether or not Dillons can sort of scale down or whether that's profitable if they expect a diminishing population in that area as a result of the disaster, they may not be able to sort of scale down their standard model of a grocery store."