Like peanut butter & jelly


Terry McAleavey named 2022 Citizen of the Year

RIVER FALLS – Terry McAleavey and his job at Family Fresh Market in River Falls go to together like peanut butter and jelly. Every aisle in Family Fresh is named after a street in River Falls. One aisle is named Dallas St., another is named Maple St., but aisle 4, the peanut butter and jelly aisle, is now named McAleavey Ave.

Family Fresh had a big celebration for Terry McAleavey this past July for his 50th work anniversary at the grocery store.

“Terry got to pick any aisle in the store to be named after him,” said Family Fresh Store Director John Wild. “And he said he wanted the peanut butter and jelly aisle. Terry has a great heart and this is the only job he knows.”

McAleavey started working part-time in 1972 after his junior year at River Falls High School. The store was known as Erickson’s then. A young McAleavey was stocking shelves and bagging groceries with a smile and a ‘hello’ for every customer. Over 50 years later, the 68-year-old McAleavey is still saying ‘hello’ to customers, still bagging groceries, and still stocking shelves.

“Terry runs circles around most of us here,” said Wild.

The company name has changed from Erickson’s to More 4 to Econofoods and now Family Fresh Market. There have been multiple store directors and hundreds, if not thousands, of parttime employees that have come and gone in 50 years, but three generations of River Falls’ grocery shoppers have come to know the smile and the “hello” from Terry McAleavey.

That’s why when the River Falls Chamber of Commerce opened up an online link for community members to nominate and vote for “2022 Citizen of the Year,” McAleavey won in a landslide. McAleavey received the Citizen of the Year award last week at Family Fresh Market. He will be publicly recognized at the Chamber’s annual banquet at Kilkarney Hills on Feb. 2.

“Terry being recognized as ‘Citizen of the Year’ has easily been the biggest Facebook post in our Chamber history,” said River Falls Chamber of Commerce Director Russ Korpela.

The chamber post about McAleavey has been viewed over 25,000 times, with almost 100 shares, and has received over 400 comments.

“It’s literally generations of River Falls residents that know him and wanted to congratulate him,” said Korpela.

McAleavey is in tip-top shape, partially due to walking over 15,000 steps per day during his normal duties. McAleavey, seemingly, does not stop moving.

“I’m in a lot better shape than some of the younger kids that work here,” said McAleavey.

‘He’s going to work here until he can’t do it anymore,” said Wild. “Terry used to show up two hours early for his shift to visit with his other co-workers that were on break or clocking out. It was his social hour for the day.”

“I’ve been here my whole life,” said McAleavey, “I was born to work. I love working here and I love the people. I guess that’s why they gave me the award because I’m courteous. I got to be courteous, that’s my job.”

And just like that, Terry McAleavey politely ends the interview.

“I apologize but today is stock day and we’re two guys short,” said McAleavey. “I can’t be blabbing about myself for too long. There’s work to do.”

McAleavey headed off to the dairy aisle to stock yogurt and it took all of five seconds to see why he was named “Citizen of the Year.” Customers, in droves, were walking by congratulating him. It was a traffic jam of grocery carts in the dairy aisle. McAleavey had a smile and a “thank you” for every single one of them. McAleavey even managed to retrieve and hand deliver a bottle of ketchup to a woman when he asked her if she had everything.

“Terry makes you feel like you matter to him and everyone needs that in their life,” said customer Shelby Myszewski. “We all should learn from Terry in sharing our smiles, happiness, and kindness to one another.”

“Terry is just a great human being and the most positive person I know,” said Cedric Ellingson, a former River Falls Citizen of the Year winner in 2014.

“Terry’s always saying ‘How can I help you’ and ‘What do you need?’” said 25-year Chamber of Commerce member Terry McKay. “He is the ultimate giver. There’s nobody he wouldn’t give the shirt off his back to help.”

“It’s contagious; the dude is just contagious,” said customer Todd Andrews, “He’s always in a good mood. It’s a great reminder for me not to fall into that trap of the negativity of life. I don’t know how you don’t walk away from that guy in a better mood. It’s just his jam.”

Jam and jelly are located on aisle 4, otherwise known as McAleavey Ave. in Family Fresh Market, along with the peanut butter. It’s ironic McLeavey picked the peanut butter and jelly aisle to be his aisle. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the “punch the clock” and go to work type of sandwich. It’s the sandwich of the people, both young and old. It’s both sweet and sticks around. Just like Terry McAleavey.

Aisle 4 at Family Fresh Market is now named McAleavey Ave. in honor of Terry McAleavey. Photo by Greg Peters