Coming back to Carbon County
Purchase of the former Workmen's Market is a return to familiar territory
For business partners Todd and Sharene Muse, buying the former Workmen's Market in Helper was an expansion of their grocery business. It was a bit more than that for Todd. It was a homecoming.
He is a native of Carbon County and entered the industry as a stock clerk while he was still in high school. He recalled that it was good money for a kid, and the job evolved into a career.
He spent 23 years in a corporate chain environment, leaving Price when he was 21 and moving from one store to another across the West. About six years ago, while they were living in Las Vegas, the Muses learned of a vacant building in Leeds, a small town near St. George. They decided to take the entrepreneurial leap.
"It was small, but it was not a convenience store," he said. "We wanted it to be a full grocery, the Leeds Market. We worked open to close with no help six days a week."
Later, another opportunity opened in nearby Ivins and they began the Red Mountain Market.
When Steve and Iona Giacoletto put Workmen's up for sale, the Muses heard about it and decided it was time to expand into new territory. "The Giacolettos were wonderful to work with," Todd said.
The Muses renamed the 80-year-old store the Pick & Rail, a reference to the mining and railroad heritage of Helper, Todd said. They also wanted a new name to reflect a change in ownership.
The expansion has one complication: The Helper store is about 300 miles from the two groceries they own and operate in Leeds and Ivins. So Todd commutes and Sharene handles day-to-day operations from the base in Washington County.
The operations in Helper are made easier by having Todd Priano aboard as store manager. Priano is another veteran of the grocery business. The two Todds have been friends since fourth grade in Price. They have been working together in one way or another since 1985.
The owners and manager have similar ideas on what they want the store to be. It is the same philosophy the Muses have had since opening shop in Leeds. "We want small town service with corporate standards," Todd Muse said. That means cleanliness, selection and freshness, he explained.
The Pick & Rail is a member of Associated Foods, a warehouse owned by hundreds of independent groceries. The association gives them purchasing power, Muse said. "Being independent does not mean being alone."