- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Ole McDonnells have a store: When customers come into Ole McDonnell’s Country Store in Newburg, they find themselves humming an old nursery rhyme.
Customers are walking into what Carla and Stephen McDonnell hope will become a legacy to pass down to their children, just as nursery rhymes are passed down to generations.
The couple decided to take a chance and buy the store in early August. They opened the very next day. An official store opening was held in late September.
“We wanted our own little legacy to leave behind. We’ve always wanted to do something. We just never found it until we found this,” Carla McDonnell said.
Stephen McDonnell, 51, works in construction as a pile driver, but Carla McDonnell left her job as chief administrative officer at a local landscaping company to run the store full time.
The McDonnell’s children, Crystal Jackson, 31, and James McDonnell, 25, help out with whatever needs to be done in the store.
“We all play all of [the roles at the store],” Carla McDonnell, 50, said.
Jackson handles marketing and runs the cash register, as well as works in the store’s deli. James McDonnell helps Stephen McDonnell with repairs and runs the cash register. The store also has two full-time employees and a part-time employee to help out.
Not your typical grocery store: The building Ole McDonnell’s is in previously was Goldsmith’s Country Store. Carla McDonnell said the owner was ready to retire, so the McDonnells seized the opportunity.
Ole McDonnell’s has expanded hours and additional products. Open for breakfast, lunch and early dinner, customers are welcome to sit at a table with a beer and watch television and play Keno.
“We want to bring it up to the whole community feeling like it’s a place they can go like they feel at home, like the old-time country stores used to be,” Carla McDonnell said. “Where you could walk in, and everybody is family. We don’t want it to be a typical grocery store you go in, and you don’t know who the people are. We want people to come in and feel like they are part of the family.”
What’s in the name? In choosing the store’s name, Carla McDonnell said the family let the community choose between Ole McDonnell’s, MomMaw’s Country Store or C&S Country Store [for Carla and Stephen] and vote on Facebook.
“Ole McDonnell’s won by a landslide,” said Jackson, who works in human resources for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. She said working in the store does not feel like a job.
The McDonnells also ask customers what merchandise they want available in the store, such as which kinds of beer and food products. Ole McDonnell has convenience store items, as well as McCutcheon’s jellies, beer and wine, a deli that serves hot and cold sandwiches, Hunt Brothers Pizza, chicken wings, stuffed hams, pumpkin rolls, fried chicken and handmade country sausage.
Community-minded: Born and raised in Cobb Island, the McDonnells and their children have a goal for the store to reach into the community they have been part of for many years.
“We eventually want to help in our community and not just be a store,” Carla McDonnell said. She said the store someday could help local fire departments with fundraising and already helps to cater at local schools.
Carla McDonnell said she loves “seeing all the kids that my kids grew up with are now grown ups, and they have their own kids and families, and I love seeing them all come in here.”
REBECCA J. BARNABI
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