AURORA — Although locally owned grocery stores have often passed their shelf lives in the age of large chains and big box stores, local investors are bringing fresh food and specialty meats back to Aurora. East Range Market LLC, which owns Nashwauk Market, just announced plans to open a second store on Aurora’s Main Street. The owners signed a development agreement last week to offer Aurora and Town of White residents more options for buying food.
On a personal note, I’m glad to see good things happening in the town where most of my mother’s family went to high school and where I spent lots of time with my grandparents as a child.
Nashwauk Market co-owner Tony Fragnito said he has a friend whose aging mother is currently without access to a grocery store in Aurora. “We started talking and said, ‘Let’s see what can happen.’” This announcement comes almost five years after Zup’s Food Market in Aurora closed, leaving the community of roughly 1,600 without a true grocery store.
“Hooray! No more driving 10 miles for a tomato. I am so delighted that we will have a grocery store in Aurora again. Thank you for investing in our community!” said Aurora resident Sara Koski.
The new store, located in the former steelworkers’ union hall, will be similar to Nashwauk Market. That location is a 10,000-square-foot store known for its meat products, such as sausage and porketta. The previous owners actually used a porketta recipe from Fragnito’s great-aunt. “The Iron Range Meats brats I bought are the best tasting brats I have ever eaten, and my mother owned a meat shop,” said one frequent Nashwauk Market online order customer.
Aurora Market will be slightly larger than the Super One and IGA stores in nearby Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes, respectively. It will offer fresh cut meats, but owners are unsure if there will be a deli. “Almost everything is cut in the store,” said owner Tony Fragnito. “Chances are [a piece of meat] was cut within four to six hours of buying it.”
In addition to bringing fresh, nutritious foods to the area, Aurora Market will create 10 – 20 permanent union jobs. Employees will be members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1189.
During the development and construction of Aurora Market, locals will have access to old-fashioned (and contactless) home delivery on Thursdays. Area residents can call 218-208-4626 or 218-885-1447 for delivery, and customers can pay with cash, check, or credit card.
Grocery delivery is currently available in Nashwauk and the surrounding area. “We’ll never tell someone ‘no’ if we have the manpower to do it,” said Fragnito, “and about 90 percent of what we deliver outside of Nashwauk are things like brats, snack sticks, and porketta. In a way, COVID helped us develop that.”
Hunters can also drop off wild game for processing. The drop-off site with a freezer will be located at Bradach Lumber and Hardware, 216 W. 3rd Ave., Aurora.
Owners Tony Fragnito, Ben DeNucci, and a silent partner (to be announced) will hold a press conference at 315 Main St. in Aurora on Thursday, October 15 at noon to provide more details about Aurora Market. A porketta lunch will follow.
Nashwauk Market is located at 202 2nd St. in downtown Nashwauk. For more information, visit www.ironrangemeats.com.
HTF editor Tucker Nelson lives in Virginia with his fiancé and future stepson. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.