It has been almost a year since the popular grocery store McDonnell’s Market Place closed its doors last October. The store had been in business for 75 years until then. Art McDonnell, mayor of Kirkwood, owned the market since 1982, and it has been in his family since 1940. On Oct. 13, McDonnell and his family will welcome the opening of Local Harvest Grocery.
After careful consideration, McDonnell decided to close the market last October. He wanted to spend more time with his wife and family, and dedicate more time to his duty as mayor. McDonnell said the closing came as a shock to Kirkwood customers.
Two years before closing, McDonnell spoke with Kirkwood residents about what they would want to replace the market. His costumers said they wanted to keep the space a grocery store. When Local Harvest bought the space, McDonnell and Kirkwood residents were pleased with the replacement.
“I wanted something to be there that would be good for the neighborhood,” McDonnell said. “Kirkwood supported us for so many years and many residents said they’d like to have another grocery store. Local Harvest is going to be able to supply that for us. They will also be unique and different from us, and I think that will be a success factor.”
Local Harvest sells locally-grown and sustainably-produced food and products. Maddie Earnest and Patrick Hornie opened the first Local Harvest in 2006 in a small storefront in south St. Louis. Five years later, the store moved a few blocks away to accommodate the growing business. Earnest said he knows how important McDonnell’s Market Place was to the community, and he’s excited to move into the location.
“Our store is different because we are local,” Earnest said. “The fact that we can be where someone else was successful is reassuring. We plan on keeping the space alive and involved in the community. Our store caters to people with changing interests.”
The Kirkwood location will be the second Local Harvest grocery store in the St. Louis area and will house 6,000 square feet of retail space. Company profits stay in the area and at least 50 percent of the food comes from within 150 miles.
Since 2007, Local Harvest has donated nearly $1 million to local farmers, artisans and nonprofits. More than 85 cents of each dollar spent at the store stays in the community. In 2008 and 2009, Riverfront Times and Sauce Magazine voted Local Harvest as the “Best Grocery Store” and “Best Gourmet Grocery Store” in St. Louis.
Earnest said she is excited to cater to the Kirkwood demographic. She believes Local Harvest will be one of the premier locations to buy local in the area.
The new location will also have a cafe, healthy alternatives to prepared foods and a carryout menu. The dining area will seat up to 50 people, and Earnest expects it to be a hot spot for college students because of its close proximity to Webster University and St. Louis Community College-Meramec.
McDonnell and his family plan to visit Local Harvest for the grand opening on Oct. 13.
“(Local Harvest) will continue the legacy, but they are going to build their own story,” McDonnell said. “I hope they have a long and a prosperous stay in the community.”