By Eric Mistry
McNally’s Foods, a downtown Grinnell staple for decades, has opened a new location on the corner of 6th Avenue and Main Street. The new store contains more merchandise, a seating area and an expanded deli with hot food options. With an old-school, local grocer atmosphere coupled with modern amenities and services, the new McNally’s is proving to be an exciting change to Grinnell’s Main Street.
It has been quite a journey over the past few months for owners Randy and Julie Smith. The couple decided to move last winter when their landlord at the previous location decided to double the rent.
“We saw that we either had to move or quit,” Mr. Smith said.
They debated the different options and concluded that they wanted to keep running McNally’s, one way or another.
“We knew we wanted to continue to serve the community. We decided that staying in that location was not in the best interest of the store, ourselves or our employees, so we decided to see what else was available,” Ms. Smith said.
As luck would have it, an ideal space had opened up across the street.
“It’s almost like it was meant to be,” Mr. Smith said. “When we took our sign off of our old building and put it on this building, it just fit perfectly and looked so much better. It was like it was made for this building, not our old one.”
With a new space chosen and a move imminent, the Smiths set about designing their new store.
“Basically, we sat down with a piece of paper and thought about if we could design our dream store, what would we put in it?” Ms. Smith said.
This led to a relatively simple drawing they still keep in the business’s office, a drawing that closely resembles the new McNally’s. They then worked with a designer to transform their ideas into the blueprints of the space.
With only a few months left to plan and move their store, the Smiths had to act quickly. Luckily, everything started to fall into place with teams of engineers, contractors and suppliers working together to get the new space set for opening.
As they built into and refinished the new space, the Smiths encountered some hidden details that made the space an even more perfect fit.
“As the electricians started working in the drop ceiling, they found some of the original trusses. We thought they were so beautiful and went with the spirit of the building that we thought it would be a shame to keep them hidden,” Ms. Smith said.
The trusses add to the old-time environment that the new McNally’s has cultivated.
Another key component of this atmosphere is the featured showpiece: a 1922 Model T “Huckster” that sits just inside the entryway. The Model T is a throwback to the original use of the space as a Ford dealership back in the 1920s.
The old car is not just for show either.
“It actually runs. We drove around town, honked the horn, and drove it into the store,” Ms. Smith said.
The final move over was an experience in and of itself.
“The Sunday before we moved, we started taking things over in carts and everyone got involved. We had all sorts of people here. We had lots of community members here, we had students, we even had the mayor here,” Ms. Smith said.
The move took about two days, and then the Smiths placed a huge order with their supplier to fill in the remaining shelves with new items.
So far, the new store setup and its many amenities are proving popular with students, especially the seating area in the front where customers can enjoy food and drinks.
“I love the new store, I just feel so comfortable there. I can see myself studying and relaxing there, especially with that new eating area,” said Kristina De La Torre ’14.
Will Ewing ’15 agreed.
“I like how it’s clean and modern. Everything is so much easier to find and I like that new seating area. It makes me want to buy more food, just so I can eat there.”