Dreamer: Tom Mulholland
Business: Mulholland Grocery
Contest: Southwest Iowa 2012
I operate a grocery store in the small town of Malvern, Iowa, and grew up working in this store for my grandfather, and then my father and his partner when I was younger. Malvern had 4 grocery stores when I was young, but the changes in small town life and the daily commute to the city by much of the working force has brought about the closure of all of these stores except ours. I worked in Omaha for 20 years, managing the meat department for the most successful small, independent grocery store in the city, and was called in the newspaper, as "possibly the best meat-cutter in Omaha." In 2008, the opportunity arose for me to purchase the store that had been let out of the family after more than a century, and I took the chance. Since that time, I have worked an unbelievable schedule trying to make my business a success. I make nearly 20 types of homemade sausages, both fresh and smoked, and prepare many other smoked items such as homemade bacon, Canadian Style Bacon, Smoked Salmon Filets, and lots of homemade salads and other gourmet quality foods. Our meat counter displays Fresh Poultry and Seafood, lean trimmed Fresh Pork, and USDA Choice Beef. We draw in many repeat customers from a large area, from Des Moines to Lincoln, with our high quality offerings, because we offer items that cannot be found in a normal small town store.
If I won the prize money, I would be able to purchase equipment that would allow us to make more of our products by making things easier. A different scale would allow us to mark our products better and make it easier to meet all the new government regulations. A larger meat grinder would allow us to prepare larger batches, and keep our varied assortment full. So many of the things are done by hand in my operation, because we cannot afford to purchase the things to make it easier. Meat processing equipment is expensive, and this money would not be enough for brand new equipment for the things that I could use, but we could get good used equipment that would certainly be an improvement over doing things by hand.
I'm submitting my application because I love working in the town I grew up in, seeing the people that I've known all my life, and having a chance to help a lot of people. Malvern needs a grocery store; every town does. However, many small towns are losing the stores that they so desperately need because too many people drive to the city to shop at the box stores, and don't realize how much they would miss their hometown store until it's too late. This contest could allow not only myself a better chance to enhance my dream, but also keep a small town flourishing with another healthy face on Main Street.