Greenwood’s Grocery returns after fire, new owners continuing family-owned legacy

FARLEY, Iowa — Nearly two years after a fire destroyed Farley’s lone grocery store, Greenwood’s Grocery is back.

The store, owned and operated in the community since 1946, and the apartments above it were destroyed in a May 6, 2022, fire caused by an electrical malfunction from a faulty freezer unit. Wednesday was opening day for the renewed community staple at 112 First St. NW.

The store is under new ownership, though the tradition of it being a family owned and operated business will continue. Laurie Simon will be assisted by her daughters, Kristy Pitts, Jenny Ronnebaum, Kelly Henderson and Ashley Weiland. Simon worked at the store for 20 years before it burned, and her daughters have all had past experience working there, too.

Though the Greenwood family might no longer be running the store, getting the blessing to have the Greenwood’s Grocery name continue was important.

“When we kept coming up to work in the building, we said, ‘Let’s go to Greenwood’s.’” Pitts said. “The customers are always going to say ‘Let’s go to Greenwood’s.’ Well, if we called it Main Street Market, they’d still call it Greenwood’s.

“So, mom and dad had the conversation with (previous owner) Tim (Greenwood) … because it’s their family name and their family tradition. He had no problem with (the name remaining). He’s been super supportive,” Pitts said.

Ever since the fire, community members have lobbied for a grocery store. Back in July 2022, Farley Mayor Jay Hefel told the Telegraph Herald that the loss was an added hardship for residents, forcing them to travel to neighboring communities for their shopping needs.

“It’s a troublesome situation to have,” Hefel said in 2022. “It’s a struggle for a small town to not have its own grocery store.”

The new owners agree.

“I feel like the grocery store is the heart of a town. If you can’t have a grocery store in your town, it just can’t survive.” Pitts said. “I wouldn’t want to move here if we didn’t have a grocery store … it would be an inconvenience.”

The plan was always to bring the store back at its previous location, but there were logistics to figure out, because if the building had to be torn down, a new store likely would not have returned to the previous location. When Greenwood asked Simon’s husband, Peter Simon, to help with the cleanup process, Peter saw the building was salvageable.

“Our dad, Peter, is super sentimental. So, he did not want to see this old building go down,” Pitts said. “So, I think he had it in the back of his mind before anybody ever knew it that he was doing this and reopening it.”

During the renovation, decisions were made in stages and as a group, moving from flooring, to walls, to countertops.

“We just kind of had conversations and brainstormed,” Pitts said.

The family is putting a little bit of its own history in the design, as some of the wood used in the renovation comes from the family farm. The idea is to have “one foot in the past and one in the present,” the family said.

For both the new owners and locals, the excitement of opening day was palpable in the leadup, with community members constantly popping in to the store check the progress.

“I don’t think we can open soon enough,” Henderson said April 11.

The store will be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon.