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Malvern neighbors say grocery store returning after fire is 'vital'

'It's been such a void in town not having it here'
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 09, 2024

MALVERN, Iowa (KMTV) — A fire in December of 2021 destroyed Malvern's only grocery store. After some false starts, rebuilding has begun and the community looks forward to having the store back.

  • For items not carried by Dollar General or Casey's, the closest grocery store is at least 15 minutes away in Glenwood.
  • "Yeah, we can drive to Glenwood or surrounding towns and spend our money there, but we would love to do it in our community," said Janella May, owner of the Salty Heifer Cafe.
  • "The stress, the depression, that I've gone through with everything that has happened has been tremendous and I feel so much better. I feel alive again," said grocery store owner, Tom Mulholland.
  • SEE MORE: As Malvern waits, grocery store owner says plan to rebuild after fire underway

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Small towns without grocery stores are effectively food deserts, with neighbors often traveling miles to get necessities.

I'm your southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel, in Malvern. After this town lost its grocery store in a fire about 2 ½ years ago, neighbors here are relieved to see construction finally starting on a new store.

"There's so much going on in this town, it's exciting,” said Janella May, owner of the Salter Heifer Cafe.

The cafe is just down the street from Mulholland Grocery. In light of the growth of her hometown, she says getting the grocery store back is critical.

"It's been such a void in town not having it here," May said.

For items not carried by Dollar General or Casey's, the closest grocery store is at least 15 minutes away in Glenwood. So, when initial work started on the Mulholland Grocery store site, the community was excited.

And so is owner, Tom Mulholland, who can finally leave the job he's had since the fire and return to the family business.

"I enjoy being part of the growth and the vitality around Malvern," he said.

Recent rain slowed things down, but Mulholland says getting a new contractor, a local company, and seeing work begin has lifted a weight from his shoulders.

"I want to reinforce the future of the community by getting this store rebuilt," Mulholland said.

When I talk to business owners in small towns around Southwest Iowa they often mention that they depend on one another.

"Yeah, we can drive to Glenwood or surrounding towns and spend our money there, but we would love to do it in our community," May said.

After work is done to stabilize the neighboring building, which was also damaged in the fire, a foundation will be laid for the new store.

"The stress, the depression, that I've gone through with everything that has happened has been tremendous and I feel so much better. I feel alive again," said Mulholland.