Mocol's Celebrates 100 Years in Mankato
Tucked away on Broad Street, behind Madison Avenue, is a relic of Mankato's past, still operating today as a local grocery and convenience store.
Mocol's is celebrating 100 years in Mankato, and it's a story of a Lebanese immigrant finding his way in the new world.
In 1914, Europe was at war, and rather than be conscripted into the disastrous army of the Ottomon Empire, the first owner of this fine establishment set sail for America, received the name Joe Mocol on Ellis Island, an made his way to the Midwest.
George Mocol says, "The only trade he knew was being a peddler. Taking inventory, putting it in a wagon. And that's what he did – went to South Dakota, drove all the way back. Horse and buggy, and go farm to farm selling everything from eye glasses to corn – whatever else they had."
He ended up setting up shop in Mankato in 1917. Back then buying local was really your only option, so he paid farmers in his own currency, knowing those same tin coins would make it back to him eventually for overalls, boots, whatever else he could sell.
"He really thrived in that. The farmers would come in and they'd be super busy. He opened another store on south Front Street for a long time. Had a store in Fairmont."
The bustling days early twentieth century Mankato are long gone, but there it sits on the corner of Broad and Lafayette, in what looks like a convenience store, even though they're able to pack quite the variety of groceries in the limited space.
The descendants running the place now rely on the same business sense their grandfather used to make it in America.
Joe Mocol says, "Many people thought we would disappear 50 years ago. We have people that ask us how we are still here. Basically, we give people good service, we have good prices. We know a good share of the customers."
Thomas Mocol says, "I think we listen to people. I think that's the big thing. There's times when people want a product that we normally don't carry. If we can sell it, we'll get it. Hog maws, turkey necks, oxtail – you can't dictate what people want."
It's a practice that's served them well.
They already survived the hard part. The big box stores took over, and they're still here.
Perhaps making the next one hundred years of Mocol's more likely than the first.
-KEYC News 12