Life-long McDonald's Corners friends bringing community back to life with corner store
The Highlands Country Store in McDonald's Highlands. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)
MCDONALD'S CORNERS, ONT. -- Blink and you just might miss the corner store in McDonald’s Corners, west of Lanark Highlands. But to the residents in and around McDonald’s Corners, the little store is essential to the community.
Originally opened in 1866, the store shut down this past February after the owners at the time retired. That is until two life-long friends and locals to McDonald’s Corners teamed up to buy the store.
"We were disappointed to see it close back in February because it’s been a staple of the community for 155 years," says Jessica Turner, one of the co-owners of the newly named Highlands Country Store. "A lot of people were hit hard when it was closed."
"A big part of it is again to have community events, and I feel like without this staple here we’re losing our sense of community," says Colleen Fitzpatrick, Turner’s childhood friend and co-owner.
Together Turner, a current early childhood educator, and Fitzpatrick, an employee at Canopy Growth, have gone all in on the project and are set to leave their respective jobs. The 35-year-old women are giving the historic building a facelift, and adding new amenities like soft serve ice cream and an expanded deli, while keeping everything the store offered to begin with. They’re also planning to sell gifts and items made from local producers.
"The floors are incredible to bring back," says Fitzpatrick, looking at the refinished hardwood floors that were hidden under red carpet. "Also to keep some of the old shelving; just to keep some of the old history in this building was important to us."
The pair intend to bring the corner store back to what they remember of its glory days.
"We’d come up here for ice cream, it was always a treat to come to the store," says Fitzpatrick. "I often used it if I was cooking something and I needed butter last minute this is where I would run because Phyllis (the former owner) always had it," remembers Turner.
Despite the store being tucked away in Lanark County, the pair are working hard to have it re-opened for the Victoria Day long weekend, and say the area gets lots of traffic coming through the area, along with everyday stops from the locals.
"A lot of it is cottage country up here," says Fitzpatrick. "So we get a lot of Toronto, Ottawa, a lot of people coming in the last few days just to stop by that are from the area."
"A lot of people are very excited to get in and see what we’ve done with the place, and just to have the store back in the community," says Turner.