By opening the natural food store Greatest Grains in 1979, Max Mayfield said his parents were hoping to bring more life to their Davenport community.
A young couple in love, longtime vegetarian Julie Martens and accomplished athlete Clyde Mayfield set out to offer healthy alternatives in Davenport's Hilltop Campus Village. They opened one of the Quad-Cities' first health food stores on Harrison Street.
Now 40 years later, the grocery store is one of the liveliest locations in the Hilltop. Familiar faces serve regulars at the deli. Grocery shoppers laugh with cashiers. Lines of customers wait to purchase smoothies or fill up water jugs on hot summer days.
But as the owners reach retirement age and yearn to spend time with their grandchildren and growing family, Max Mayfield said they've decided to close the Davenport staple. Beginning July 1, everything in the store will be 25% off, with ongoing giveaways and sales to follow.
"Not only have we been able to provide wholesome food, but we also have been able to educate the community through our cooking classes, elementary age tours and decades worth of knowledge," the owners wrote in a press release. "Most importantly, we take immense pride in being able to employ hundreds of people throughout the years. Some of those employees have been with us since the start, and we can’t thank them enough."
Since he was a child, Max Mayfield said Greatest Grains has been his home, growing up, learning how to serve customers and run a business.
"One of the things that's always stood out to me is how much people have loved being a part of the business, and that's exemplified by some of our team members who have been with us for 20-plus years," he said. "I've realized that's not common everywhere you go and other places you work. It's the willingness and their want to better themselves and others that really stands out."
The business also has been a haven for dozens of Quad-City residents, who regularly walk from their homes or jobs to stop by, talk to employees and order food at the deli.
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Scott Tunnicliff, director of the Hilltop Campus Village, said Greatest Grains has remained a gathering space while the region around it has transformed and more businesses have opened.
"The entire community owes a debt of gratitude for the whole Mayfield family, for maintaining and thriving in our community," he said. "That store has been a real destination point, not only to the Hilltop but the whole community. They've been exemplars of what it means to be a local, family business. There's no question they'll be missed."
In recent years, the grocery store has continued to serve Quad-City customers while healthy eating has become increasingly more mainstream. Greatest Grains, and other longtime natural food staples in the area, have faced stiffer competition, as chains like Natural Grocers and Fresh Thyme entered the market.
While Greatest Grains has evolved over the years — mixing up its menu and starting a community garden, for example — Max Mayfield said one thing has never changed: the sense of community, that nowadays can be hard to come by.
"What we love and what's been really important to us over the years is being part of the Hilltop community," he said. "Our house my parents still live in is a couple of blocks from the store. That is literally our neighborhood. If you ask anyone, Greatest Grains has really been the cornerstone of our Hilltop neighborhood."
Working at the store, Julie Martens and Clyde Mayfield have prepared their children to be clever and creative entrepreneurs, he said. Max Mayfield said along with himself and his computer engineering background, his family includes a foodie, an accountant, an "expert marketer," and a dietitian.
"So I think there will always be opportunities and things we want to do in our family going forward," he said. "And going through this milestone will probably allow some opportunities to open up."
Max Mayfield said Greatest Grains has yet to set an exact closing date. Tunnicliff said the Hilltop is working with business owners interested in opening in the area and hopes the right business will decide to take over the building in the near future.