James Bay’s beloved store Niagara Grocery has a new landlord who has promised to give it the necessary cosmetic upgrades, while keeping the community grocery store feeling intact.
Locals Seamus McKeating and his wife Jennifer Gunter have purchased the building at 579 Niagara St. and take possession on March 9. Jennifer McKimmie will remain as owner.
McKeating, who lives a few doors down from the store, had been looking at locations around Vic West as potential places to open a new community grocery store when he stumbled upon Niagara Grocery last summer.
“I was looking for inspiration and Jennifer McKimmie said I should do what I love. I asked her if she loved what she does and she said yes,” he said, adding McKimmie approached him about partnering shortly after. “It’s been a roller coaster ride, but here we are.”
Over the next few months, McKeating will be completing a number of cosmetic upgrades such as painting the building and cleaning up the yard next door, which will allow for more vegetable displays outside.
“We’re going to try and keep it exactly the way it is,” he said. “It’s the idea of community stores that is what’s special about it. You just can’t get that same experience when you go into a big store. It’s about the community.”
Last August, the landlord listed the building and property next door for sale, hoping to sell the two for an estimated $1.3 million.
Since then, the community has rallied behind the store. McKimmie started an online fundraising campaign to raise enough money needed to put a downpayment on the property.
They also floated the idea of moving the store to a new, less expensive location.
Now, with a new landlord, McKimmie is excited the store will continue to flourish in the community in the years to come.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief for the community. Like when the listing first went up and the community rallied around it, it’s certainly done the same with the news of the purchase and the fact that Niagara has a long-term home,” she said.