By Jo Manning
As reported in an earlier Beacon, the Niagara Grocery, a favourite in James Bay since 1908, is no more. Instead, we have a totally new Niagara Market, with a new marketing concept, and with new owners, Seamus McKeating and Jennifer Gunter. It’s so exciting.
One day last April, shoppers saw a sign posted on the window, announcing the closure of our beloved corner grocery. There was shock and dismay all round, but then, a short while later, we saw another sign promising the business would re-open soon with a new name, and everyone took heart.
Through the open door passers-by could see the interior being gutted and cleaned, new shelving built on site, and floors replaced, all designed and constructed by Seamus, with help from his staff. The shelving is moveable to permit other uses for the space. New wiring and plumbing allowed for a small kitchen, and new fixtures.
The Market re-opened in June. Now, in mid-summer, it is coming together. On entering, the first view is a visually appealing display of fresh, locally sourced vegetables and fruits. Just past this and to the right is a cooler with frozen treats, a first stop for many. The new shelves are packed with specialized grocery items, cereals, jams, coffee beans, and so much more. The cooler wall remains at the back. The counter has moved to the east wall, so there is lots of room for customers to line up, even chat.
The small kitchen offers light lunches, muffins and fresh coffee, and tables and chairs by the large front windows wait for action. There’s a checker board, and nearby a hidden alcove contains books.
Seamus’ dream is now evident. The Market is a fun place to drop in, pick up some groceries or maybe a coffee and muffin, to have there or to go. A frozen treat would not come amiss too, on a hot day, or any day. There’s lots more room too for elders with walkers. Seamus and Jennifer’s dream of the Market as an all-purpose community centre for all of us, has become a wonderful reality.