Retailer of the Year Award

List of Previous Retailer of the Year Award Recipients      

2019 Retailer of the Year nomination form in fillable PDF format
(Type in the information, then click on "Submit Form" in the upper right corner. Deadline: November 2, 2018)

Guidelines for 2019 Retailer of the Year nominations


Jeff and Janine Nielsen Receive 2018
South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award

Janine and Jeff Nielsen 2018 Retailer of the Year Award

 Janine and Jeff Nielsen of Total Stop Food Stores received the 2018 South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award

A couple who operate nine convenience and grocery stores have been named the recipients of the 2018 South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award.

Jeff and Janine Nielsen were honored at the annual Awards Banquet of the South Dakota Retailers Association (SDRA) on January 8 in Pierre. The event was attended by state legislators, constitutional officers, and retailers from throughout the state.

The Nielsens were chosen for the award by a committee of retailers in recognition of commitment to running an excellent business, and outstanding service to their community.

Originally from Viborg and Centerville, the Nielsens were working in Texas when they decided to come back to South Dakota to open a convenience store in Canistota in 1991. In 1994, they purchased the grocery store in Emery. They continued to grow their business operation by purchasing, remodeling and expanding stores in Alcester, Beresford, Centerville, Chancellor, Freeman, Lennox, and Menno in South Dakota, and in George, Iowa.

One of their businesses is a truck stop, four are convenience stores, one is a grocery store without gas pumps, and three are grocery stores with gas pumps. No two of their stores are operated exactly alike; each store aims to fit the needs of the local community.

They have also helped others get a start in business, by mentoring managers at their Canistota and Iowa stores until they were ready to purchase the businesses.

"A lot of times when we talk about economic development, people tend to think about smokestacks and big box," SDRA Board President Gary Cammack of Cammack Ranch Supply in Union Center said when presenting the award. "But the Nielsens also represent strong economic development. They provide employment for over 140 people. The jobs they provide, and the services they offer make a huge impact on those small communities."

They were nominated for the award by business colleagues, bankers, school officials, and others who praised the Nielsens for their vision, work ethic, commitment to the communities they serve, support for school and charitable events, their friendly service, and for being excellent entrepreneurs.

The Nielsens say while their businesses are always evolving, the core principle remains the same: to provide needed goods and services to their customers, have a good relationship with the people they do business with, and always try to be fair with everybody.

The Nielsens find owning and running their stores to be very rewarding, noting they get to meet and work with hometown people in every town they serve, and feel like they’re a part of each of those communities.

In accepting the award, Jeff Nielsen thanked his managers, employees, and customers, and also the suppliers and service providers they work with.

"It’s relationships like that with wonderful people and wonderful companies that have allowed us to be successful, and we feel very blessed," he said.

When asked what the key to their success was, Nielsen recalled the words of an old sergeant when he was in the military. The sergeant had always said the toughest thing about being in the military is getting up in the morning and putting your boots on. Nielsen said the same is true for being successful in a retail business: just get out of bed and get going.

About The South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award

The Retailer of the Year Award has been presented annually since 1982 by the South Dakota Retailers Association. The award is presented to a business owner or manager who is committed to running an excellent business and who plays a positive role in their community.  Individual business owners and managers are eligible for the award, as are partners, and families who run a business as a team.

Previous recipients       include an auto dealer, hardware stores, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, flower shops, appliance stores, gift shops, pharmacies, implement dealers, book stores, and other businesses that play a vital role in the everyday life of communities across the state.

Nominating Someone For The South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award

Nominations are submitted by the public, including customers, vendors,  business colleagues and civic organizations.

Nominations may be submitted online, mailed, emailed or faxed to SDRA by November 3, 2017. There are many options to submit a nomination; use the option that is most convenient for you.

  • A fillable PDF may be filled out and submitted electronically at this link (after typing in the information, click on Submit Form in the upper right corner)
  • A regular PDF may be printed from our website and filled out (please print). Then mail it to SDRA at PO Box 638, Pierre, SD 57501 or fax it to SDRA at 605-224-2059
  • Type a letter and mail or fax it to SDRA
  • Email a letter of nomination to SDRA

A hard copy of the nomination form may be obtained by calling SDRA at 800.658.5545 or by emailing


How the Retailer of the Year is Selected

In December, a committee of retailers from throughout the state selects the Retailer of the Year from nominations submitted.

About The South Dakota Retailers Association

The South Dakota Retailers Association is a voluntary organization of retail businesses that have joined together for the purpose of promoting issues and opportunities for South Dakota’s retail industry. SDRA has served South Dakota’s retail business interests since 1897 and serves nearly 4,000 members, making it the largest business trade association in our state and one of the largest state retail associations in the country. To learn more, please visit or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information

Questions? Contact the South Dakota Retailers Association at 1-800-658-5545, or contact SDRA via email.