SHELTON – Larry Brannagan has worked in a grocery store for most of his life.
His father, also Larry, owned and operated Mr. B’s Grocery Store in Wood River. Brannagan followed in his father’s footsteps and has owned and operated his own shop, Larry’s Market, in Shelton for 35 years with his wife Joanne.
“My dad always wanted to own a grocery store. He bought that store in 1980. I learned that from him. We were interested in the same things,” says Larry.
Larry went to Kearney State College to study economics while continuing to work at Mr. B’s. While in college, Shelton’s grocery store owner contacted Brannagans to buy the Shelton store.
“When this one came up, (my dad) was like, ‘Yeah, I can not buy it unless you’re going to drive it. Joanne and I were getting married anyway so we both decided it would be something we could try, ”Larry explained.
Brannagans bought the store and Larry and Joanne have run the business ever since. Working with his dad and his wife has been one of the best parts of working in the store.
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“It has been great. We are a good team. We work well together. Joanne has her departments that she orders and stocks and takes inventory of, and I have mine,” said Larry.
Larry’s Market is housed in a large, stately building in central Shelton. The age of the building – sections were built in the late 19th century and others in the early 20th century – is one of the challenges of owning the store.
“Our building is so old. It’s hard to update it. It has been more maintenance than anything else, ”said Larry.
As the only full-time employees in the store, Brannagans does not often take holidays. But they are going to eastern Nebraska to visit their two daughters and three young grandchildren. Sometimes they even go after work to have dinner with their children and go home the same evening.
“It’s our vacation,” Larry said with a laugh.
Holidays or even a day off were even harder to get when the pandemic struck in early 2020. When it first began to affect the area, Brannagans told its employees that if they were uncomfortable working, they did not have to come to work.
“Most of them took time off. A couple stayed. … During that period when it was bad at first, it was just me and Joanne pretty much all the time,” Larry said.
The store also saw an increase in deliveries, and if anyone was quarantined, it was Larry who dropped the groceries out the door.
Since they opened their store 35 years ago, Brannagans has seen other companies come and go and more residents traveling outside the city to get work.
“If people are going to work, they go to Kearney or the Grand Island to work. So while they’re there, it’s easy to get food. I think if we had more employment in town, we would all be better off,” says Larry.
Working and living in the small town has been worthwhile for the couple and their family.
“I’m from the Grand Island so I’m familiar with the area, and my family is close. It’s one thing I like. Shelton is a great little town. We’re really involved in school and sports,” said Larry.
Larry and Joanne have been thinking about retiring, but there is nothing they are seriously considering yet. Being able to work with the family and their employees has helped them build a successful career and business.
– We have had some really good employees along the way. … Our talented employees have been the best memories, and working with my dad was a good memory. It’s been great, said Larry.
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