MARION -- For Dave Reynolds and Lee Pearson, being the owners of a grocery store is a natural thing.
"I guess you could say I was born in the grocery business," said the new owner of Small's Meat Market in Marion.
"I told Bruce a couple of years ago that if he ever wanted to sell, I'd be interested," said Reynolds, who took over the popular local store on Mar. 22.
Reynolds knows what it takes to run a grocery store. His family owned Reynolds Market in Carterville for almost 50 years. "I grew up in a grocery store," he said. "Buying Small's is kind of like going back in time." In fact, Reynolds said his first job was in the family store.
"I was about six or seven," he said. "Grandpa would pick me up and we would head to the garden where he would pick the produce. It was my job to sit with a rag with mineral oil and shine up the cucumbers and tomatoes. When I was finished, I would get a Tombstone pizza. That was my pay."
Part of what Reynolds hopes to do in his newest endeavor is to pass that work ethic to the youth he hires.
"I want to work with them until they're confident in what they're doing," he said. "I want to help them learn some life skills."
Reynolds' new endeavor may have come at just the right time as it seems that post-pandemic shoppers are opting to seek out the "mom and pop" shops.
Having been a staple in Marion for at least half a century, Small's is already a favorite.
"We're not going to change anything that people are used to," said Reynolds. "This place is known for its quality meat. That won't change."
However, he does plan to expand and add more produce, some specialty items that are unavailable in other places, and more meats and cheese.
"We're also going to add a few tables where folks can sit down and eat lunch," he said.
Small's offers a daily plate lunch special.
"This is also the place to get your milk in a glass jug," he added.
Reynolds also plans to offer high quality specialty rubs and barbecue supplies.
"We already have a lot of customers that come to us for tings like briskets, ribs, pork butts, and pork belly," he said.
The one thing that won't change is the customer service. There will always be someone to check out the customers and carry out the groceries.
Even with the "old-fashioned" touches, Small's also offers up-to-date conveniences.
"We have a Facebook page and a website," said Reynolds. "People can order online or call in an order and pick it up."
Information on daily specials and sales is available online at www.smallsmeatmarket.com.
Reynolds said he is happy to return to his roots in the grocery business.
"It's kind of like coming home," he said. "We're looking forward to interacting, giving back, and being a part of the community."