Kean’s Store: Eighty-eight Successful Years in Mason

By Jane Whitttington on August 9th, 2016 / Comments

For 88 years and counting, Kean’s has been an important part of life in Mason, Michigan, the county seat of Ingham County. Kean’s has weathered tough economic times, a changing marketplace and even a devastating fire and has come out stronger than ever and determined to continue to serve the citizens of Mason and surrounding communities as they have for so many years.

Teresa Kean is the owner and manager of Kean’s, and the third generation of her family to own and operate this successful business.

Kean says, “My grandfather opened Kean’s in 1928, and we are still in the original building where he began. Over time, we have acquired adjoining buildings as they have become available, and we now operate out of a much larger space. We have 14,000 square feet in our expanded building.”

She continues, “My father bought the business from his family and, with my step-mother, operated Kean’s for many years. My dad ran the business while my step-mother Edie saw to the look of the store, the mix of products and day-to-day operations. At the time, I was working at Sparrow Hospital. But when my step-mother died, my dad needed my help, and I left my job at Sparrow and came here. Although I had worked here briefly over the years, I found when I came back full-time that I loved everything about it.  I worked with my dad from 1994 to 2000 when I bought the store from him.”

A fascinating timeline of the store’s history is available at www.keansstore.com/about.php

Kean’s offers a wide variety of products, and walking through the large store is an experience. Divided into departments, Kean’s has something for everyone. For the child in all of us, there is a tempting array of candy, including old-fashioned favorites like black jack taffy, rock candy and maple nut goodies. The toy department is a grandparents’ (and grandkids’) wonderland, with toys, books and craft items. Unlike many toy stores, Kean’s selection of toys features those which engage the child’s imagination and creativity, not their ability to sit motionless in front of a screen. Melissa and Doug and Playmobil brands are featured, and there’s a good selection of stuffed animals and cuddly creatures. The jewelry department is filled with elegant earrings, bracelets and necklaces, perfect complements to the fashionable clothing in the boutique. Their cleverly named Desperately Housewares section includes spices, gourmet foods, cookie cutters, kitchen gadgets, towels, and tabletop décor. There’s also a fully stocked Hallmark store inside Kean’s with all the items for which Hallmark is known including cards, ornaments and giftwrap. Speaking of gifts, that department is filled with everything any gift giver could ask to celebrate a special occasion. And finally, the fabric and craft department has hundreds of fabrics as well as all the accessories the home sewer, quilter or crafter would ever need.

Kean says, “We employee 18-22 people, depending on the season. Many are part-time, but we have several full-time employees who have been with the store for many years. We have one employee who has been here for 23 years. We’ve hired people who really love what they do, and it shows in our customer service. People who shop here feel at home in the store. It’s just a friendly, happy and comfortable place to shop.”

Many of the products for sale at Kean’s are Michigan-made and Michigan-centric. Kean says, “Michigan items are very popular here. A lot of visitors to the state buy them to take home and people who live here buy them as gifts for out-of-state family and friends.”

In December of 2015, a fire started in the restaurant next door. Despite the fact that the fire department was on the scene almost instantly, Kean’s suffered a devastating blow. Nearly all of their products were so smoke damaged that they were not salvageable. In addition, the store itself was not habitable.

Kean says, “We had to close for six months and completely remodel and restock the store. Of course, it was a financial blow and also emotionally hard to handle. But I was so touched by the community support and all the people who rallied around us. I just knew we had to rebuild and move forward. When we reopened, our employees and our customers all came back. That’s the best thing about my job—the people of Mason and Kean’s employees. They’ve stood by us through everything, and that’s an amazing thing.”

For more information about Kean’s, visit their website at www.keanstore.com

 

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.