Mike Raben has always wanted to own a grocery store. His great aunt, Irene Sibert was the bookkeeper and a manager at the grocery store in Crawford and his dad, Paul worked there as a carry out so it was “in the blood a little”.
Mike was born in Chadron but his family moved to Hemingford in 1974. He began working at John’s Jack & Jill for John Gaipl when he was just eleven years old – doing everything from sweeping, boxing and sacking groceries, stocking and basically anything else John would let him do.
From the age of fifteen and into his late teen years, Mike worked for Ron and Pat Schmitt who purchased the store from Gaipl. After high school, Mike attended Cheyenne Aerotech and worked at Food Bonanza Warehouse and Grocery as the dairy and night manager in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Mike returned to Hemingford in January 1989 for a few months; working at the store part time with his sister Tonya before taking a job at Farmers Coop and then joined the Air Force. Mike served from May of 1989 to May of 1993 and was a Senior Airman. He was able to move home and work for Phillips F & T from 1993 until the opportunity to purchase the store in October 2002. Mike and his wife Amy, began running Raben’s Market as a family affair. Mike recalled his son running his daughter up and down the aisles in the mop bucket and when they were old enough, ran the registers checking customers and assisted in the meat room.
Mike has a personal investment in his meat counter and considers it therapeutic. He has perfected recipes for sloppy joes, roast beef and takes many specialty orders for steaks, roasts and of course - his homemade sausage. Raben’s Market has a wonderful meat counter and Mike is seen every morning during the week cutting and cubing steaks, roasts and making hamburger. Raben’s Market is often called upon for special meat orders and prepares many main dishes for large gatherings.
Mike continues to operate the store with the help of his six part time employees; and his dad Paul assists on truck day stocking the dairy case .
Grocery stores can be the heartbeat in rural communities and with the changes over the years with technology, it has been more difficult to keep them in small towns like Hemingford. Mike has faced the changes of distributors and drastic increases in shipping. It makes it difficult to compete with a Walmart or Amazon. “People don’t always realize the dollars spent here stay here”, Mike commented. “They forget the small business owners support the community”. Raben’s Market has been a wonderful supporter of the Box Butte County Fair, Hemingford Schools and the booster club.
Raben’s Market appreciates the support of the customers and community businesses that help make up the awesome town of Hemingford.
Thank you, Raben’s Market for being a part of our Chamber and our Community!