Video: Teen buys grocery, boosts town economy

By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/26/2007 7:43:30 PM ET 2007-01-27T00:43:30

Is it possible, one wonders, for a 17-year-old high school senior to lift an entire community onto his skinny shoulders — and carry it off, into the future?

"If you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything," says Nick Graham.

Which is what, in tiny Truman, Minn. — once flourishing, now woebegone — Graham is trying to do.

With help from a nonprofit agency and $10,000 he saved from doing odd jobs, Graham bought a market that had closed last summer.

"We have free home delivery here, once a week," Graham says as he bags a customer's groceries.

When he came up with the idea, his classmates, well ...

"I kind of thought he was crazy, at first," says his friend Nathan.

Would they spend their money to open a grocery store?

"Probably not," says Ashley Clow.

Now, though, the locals flock back, loving the convenience.

Snipping away nearby, hair stylist Tiffany Taylor says Graham has given Main Street a real shot in the arm.

"There was nothing going on downtown, and now there's a lot more business," she says.

And Graham is teaching classmates a lesson they don't ordinarily get.

"It isn't about Nick" says economics teacher Jim Utermarck. "It's about the town of Truman. The reason he bought the grocery store is he wants to help the town of Truman. What more can you ask for?"

Yes, it's a fairy tale, complete with Prince Charming. But as for happily-ever-after? Maybe not. Soon, and not that far away, a Wal-Mart is scheduled to open.

When you're a merchant on a mission, though, you do not flinch.

"If you try hard enough and are willing to work and stick to it, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to," says Graham.

And because Graham believes, so does the town.

"It's coming around," says Truman resident Amy Werner, Graham's only employee. "We can make it."

Because of a 17-year-old, stocking up for the future, in the little grocery store that could.

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