“Friends of Kean’s” lift the store back to its place in the community

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By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

The community of Mason came together to get Kean’s Store back on its feet after smoke damage had the store out of business for months. Volunteers ranging from Knights of Columbus to the high school football team will haul displays and merchandise onto the store’s main floor this week– even businessmen have taken time off of work to help.

The fire in Baja Grill in June caused smoke damage so severe that the entirety of the store’s interior had to be rebuilt. The merchandise was soiled by the stench of smoke. Although it was a frantic situation, the process has been supported by the community the entire way.

“It’s been great having so many volunteers, it takes an army,” said Laurie Reed, manager of Kean’s Store.

The volunteers lifted storage and displayed, stocked, cleaned and brought food.

“The energy is just amazing,” said Margaret Ross, owner of the jewelry design studio in Kean’s. “Our smile muscles are starting to hurt!”

Kean’s brought in the mass of volunteers throughout the week because of its “integral and beloved” role in the community, as Ross said. Stephanie Rawson, a resident of Mason, organized a Facebook page called “Friends of Kean’s” to keep the community updated on the progress, as well as let the community know when they could help. The page received over 3,000 hits and over 40 shares. Last week, Rawson sent out the call to action.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years, and been a part of the store in different ways,” said Rawson. “Everybody who came today worked, it wasn’t just out of curiosity. People came from all over.”

Since Kean’s is an 87-year-old family business, it was very important for the team to keep original elements. Still, change was inevitable in the renovation process, and many agreed that it was for the better.

“It’s starting to come alive, it’s brand new,” said Rawson. Certain elements, though, such as the candy counter Rawson remembered growing up, were salvaged and will remain in the store.

Reed said the store should be completely up and running by Dec. 3, but hopes it will be even before then. The pain of a store being closed during Thanksgiving is immense, she explained, even for the rest of the community. Until then, Mason’s determination and hard work to put Kean’s Store back together again is paying off.

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