Historic Highland Park Supermarket Fights to Stay Open

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The owner of Linn's has dedicated his life to the small Highland Park supermarket. Now he says he may have to close it.

"I got all new parts. Like a teenager. Yeah, just like a teenager. And sometimes when I chase people for shoplifting they think I am a teenager."

At 78-years-old, Merlyn Linn jokes about all the surgeries he's had over the years. But his laughter turns to sadness when he talks about how he might soon have to close his store. The store where he started working when he was just 15-years-old. All, he says, because of someone else's mistake.

We'll get into that in a minute. But first a history lesson. Linn's supermarket is a big part of the Highland Park neighborhood. Mostly because of its owner, Merlyn Linn. He worked here as a teenager when it first opened, and after college and a stint in the Navy, bought the place from the original owner when he was in his early 20's.

"And he says 'I got plans for you. How would you like to buy this store?' Well I laughed. Because I'm working 72 hours a week making 72 dollars. No overtime back then," he said. "I'm working my tail off, you know?"

Linn came up with the money, and 60-years later, he's still working his tail off.

"I enjoy it. Can you believe it? I can't hardly wait to come to work. And everybody thinks I'm crazy. I like the people. I like the atmosphere of people. Or at least 99-percent of them, you know?"

That, Linn says, is what makes this so hard. Back in March, MidAmerican crews fixing these transformers apparently allowed a surge of electricity to double back into Linn's Market, frying a cash register and a compressor that feeds a whole row of coolers. Linn says he asked MidAmerican before the work started whether he had to unplug anything. They said no.

"I talked to the same guy three or four times. Don't really want to get him in trouble so i won't mention his name. I don't like to get people in trouble. So anyway he said no, it won't be any problem."

But there was a problem. Now Linn's insurance won't pay up. They say it's MidAmerican's fault. And MidAmerican sent Linn a letter that says:

"Since the loss you experienced was beyond the reasonable control and foresight of MidAmerican Energy and is not caused by gross negligence, MidAmerican Energy cannot provide compensation for your loss."

And just like that 60-years of hard work will come to an end. Linn simply does not have the $30,000 he needs to repair the damage he says MidAmerican caused. He'll probably have to close down.

"I hate it. I mean this is just like my daughter or my son. My pet my dog, you know? I mean I like it. I love it."

Because of that story MidAmerican Energy says it will re-open the investigation into the incident.

Linn says that gives him some hope he may be able to stay in business.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise money to save the store.


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