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Native Sun News Today: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate debuts new grocery store

Dakota Crossing Supermarket opens at Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

By Maxine Hillary
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

SISSETON/WAHPETON - If you’re heading out the door to stock up on groceries in Indian Country, there’s a good chance that you’ll be making a long drive off the Rez and you’ll be spending money that should stay in your own community. If you’re looking for anything other than the basics close to home, with few exceptions, you’re out of luck. That is, unless you’re living on the Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation in Northeastern South Dakota.

In early September, Dakota Crossing, the tribe’s new supermarket held its soft opening. The Grand Opening took place on Monday, October 9, and drew leadership from across the state. Josh Flute is the CEO of the Dakota Nation Development Corporation. He says the tribe discussed opening a supermarket for over a decade.

While some community members see it as a move towards food sovereignty, Flute, who holds a MBA from North Dakota State University, says it’s also a good business decision.

“We’re now going to be in control of food that comes onto the reservation,” Flute told Native Sun News Today.

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate has three casinos, two schools, several delis and cafeterias, and other facilities that all order from different distributors. Flute says that since volume buying drives prices down, the tribe can consolidate all of its food purchasing and use the grocery store for procurement.

But what Dakota Crossing means for most people who live on the reservation is that along with the basics—milk, eggs, laundry soap… now, niche coffees, cheeses, organic produce, baked goods, flowers, and deli items are also available closer to home.

Enter Gregg Christensen, General Manager of Dakota Crossing who as the former general manager of the market most tribal members frequent in the border town of Sisseton, has 35 years of experience in the grocery business. He says the market is not only taking business from its competitor in the town, it’s attracting customers from localities over 25 miles away including Browns Valley, Waubay, Summit, and Bryant.

“I think the initial draw is the store’s newness," Christensen said. "The décor is beautiful. We’re two miles off of the interstate and we’re the first business you run into. That location helps a lot.”

Both Flute and Christensen cite the bloated prices of their competitor as also contributing to the popularity of the new market. According to Flute, not only are the products substandard, the prices are artificially high—inflated because there wasn’t any competition.

Dakota Crossing is located at 2410 South Dakota Highway 10, Sisseton, SD.

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