New store opening at former Quality Cash site 

  • Dave McLaughlin of Allenstown and co-owner fiance Tiffani McIntosh stand on the steps outside of the former Quality Cash Market in East Concord on Wednesday. The owners hope to open the new neighborhood market by mid-September or early October. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Dave McLaughlin of Allenstown and co-owner fiance Tiffani McIntosh stand at the steps outside of the former Quality Cash Market in East Concord on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. The owners hope to open the new neighborhood market by mid-September to the first of October. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 8/5/2020 3:10:00 PM

Dave McLaughlin of Allenstown wants a seamless transition when he opens what used to be Quality Cash Market in Concord.

That’s why he’s calling it McLaughlin’s Country Market.

Before he bought it in June, McLaughlin knew the rich history behind the business at 11 Eastman St., a convenience store on steroids, owned for four decades by the Heath family, featuring a meat counter, a deli counter, hot lunches and one family.

He knew it, he respected it and now, to some extent, he’s going to copy it, that comfortable familiarity that fits nicely within a neighborhood.

The building lay dormant the past two years. McLaughlin hopes to open in late September, perhaps early October.

“We want to stick to the neighborhood country market style,” McLaughlin, 57, told me by phone. “We want to provide what the neighborhood and the people in the area are looking for, and we certainly will be open for suggestions.”

This is new for McLaughlin. He spent two decades as the head of operations for a large grocery chain, and he was in charge of district operations for Tedeschi’s.

He co-owns this business with his fiance, Tiffani McIntosh, and he’s confident the team of McLaughlin and McIntosh will become more than just two names creating a sweet alliteration.

“We work fantastic together,” McLaughlin said, “and that is why we’re opening a country store. And there’s a great history and I know so many people there.”

That’s because earlier, during his manage ment career in retail, McLaughlin ate lunch at Quality Cash now and then. A sandwich. “Whatever the special was,” he said.

Back then, he didn’t know he’d one day own the place, but he knew the important role it played for nearby residents of all ages.

He knew that the Heath family was forced to sell two years ago when patriarch Tony Heath, the unifying force for 40 years, had to leave his post due to illness.

McLaughlin had actually visited the Quality Cash site to look at the adjacent building at 11 ½ Eastman St., a former bakery that was also for sale and nearly touched the Quality building.

That’s when he learned the property owner was looking to lease the Quality Cash building after the Heath era, giving the lessee the freedom to open a business of any kind.

In the two years that the building was empty, residents said they hoped a similar type of store, a middle ground between grocery store and convenience store, with a dash of creativity thrown in, was preferable.

Meanwhile, the old Quality location is far from renovated. McLaughlin said when finished sometime this fall, his new business will feature a full-service deli, wine and steak tips at the meat counter.

He said local products will be available, like candles and jams and jellies and fresh produce, from area markets.

Sound familiar?

He’s particularly proud of something he thought of, something that Quality Cash did not have, that dash of creativity I mentioned above: a coffee roaster. He had planned to open a coffee roaster-themed business at 11 ½ Eastman, before he noticed the space for a larger business was available as well.

“Roast your own fresh coffee,” McLaughlin pitched. “A coffee roaster is a nice addition to the store. A nice, private location for a roaster.”

McLaughlin’s enthusiasm and excitement were palpable, right through the phone. He thinks the model for success was put into place decades ago, and he’s ready to pick up where the Heath family left off.

However, the Heaths never had to fight a war like this, one of the business world’s biggest challenges ever, an infection that has decimated the American economy and given no indication it plans on leaving anytime soon.

“It’s just things we can do and things we cannot do because they are out of our control,” McLaughlin said. “We want to focus on the positive, not COVID.”

Easier said than done.

No one knows when this danger will lift, but McLaughlin knows all the precautions we’ve been reading about will most certainly be in place when he opens in the fall.

Translation: Pre-packaged grab-and-go meats will be available. Extra sanitizing measures will be needed, on self-serve machines that make slush and, yes, fresh roasted coffee.

There could be limits on crowd sizes, continued social distancing, ever-changing opinions from the national medical community, explaining the latest ways to stay safe.

It’s not an ideal time to rebuild a landmark, and as McLaughlin noted, “We’ll just have to grow into things as they happen and learn until this thing goes away.”

Meanwhile, the McLaughlin and McIntosh team is ready for takeoff, and the new owners plan to greet you when you come in.

“We want to stick to a neighborhood country market,” McLaughlin said. “We want to be the face of the store so people can recognize that it’s McLaughlin’s Country Market who they are coming to see.”


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