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The story of Corey Maple and Wilson's Grocery

Corey Maple and his wife Hannah pose outside of Wilson's Grocery and Meats. Photo by Isaac Janssen.

One of four kids, Corey Maple traveled around the states before his family settled in the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Ky.

“My dad was a jockey, so we traveled a lot. He raced all over the country,” said Maple. “I was born in Arkansas but lived in California for a while when I was a kid, amongst other places, and then we moved to Kentucky when I started grade school.”

Maple studied business management at the University of Kentucky. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I figured if you study business, you can kind of apply it in whatever you are doing,” he said.

Maple now sits in his bright Harris & Ward office off of East Short street. He has been a partner of Harris & Ward for almost 9 years; they specialize in creating world-class websites and digital campaigns.

“Something my grandfather on my mom’s side told us: ‘If you want to be successful, you should go into business for yourself.’ And that has always stuck with me,” said Maple.

When Maple’s father wasn’t training or competing in a race, he dabbled with side projects such as flipping houses to make some extra money.

“I’ve been exposed to that kind of lifestyle, or that style of thinking, ever since I was a kid,” said Maple. Maple has followed in his father’s footsteps and has successfully renovated three buildings in the Kenwick neighborhood. Maple’s other business ventures stray far from websites.

Fall of 2017, Maple and his wife Hannah were asked if they wanted to purchase the neighborhood’s family-owned grocery store, Wilson’s Grocery and Meats. Roger Wilson previously owned the grocery for 23 years but was ready to retire and pass the business on. Wilson and Maple formed a friendship over horse racing and the fact that the Maples lived right across the street from the store.

“He flagged me down and walked over and basically said, ‘I’m thinking about selling. Would you be interested in buying?’ Without any hesitation, I said yes,” said Maple. The Maples began their renovations to the building in January 2018.

The couple initially thought they would only have to make a few cosmetic changes but uncovered more significant issues during the renovation.

“We had a soft opening in September of 2018, then officially opened Oct. 10, 2018,” said Maple. There is now a second location of the store in Greyline Station that opened in December of 2020.

Logan Benton, the general manager of both Wilson’s locations, met the Maples through the neighborhood.

“I was working at UK, and COVID happened, and then I heard that there was a shift in management,” said Benton. He started as Wilson’s baker and then took over as general manager a few months later.

Maple and Benton have mixed feelings about COVID-19 and how it affected the store. The store saw a rise in sales when the pandemic hit, and customers were scared to go to larger grocery stores or even come out of their homes and instead gravitated towards the small neighborhood store for their essentials.

“Yeah, COVID strangely helped us,” said Benton.

The pandemic caused some adverse effects for the store as well. They lost one of their biggest suppliers because Wilson’s isn’t a big enough store for them to service.

“They are only shipping out to probably bigger fish,” said Maple. “Makes it hard to keep the consistent things on the shelves.”

The Maples are a family of five. They are raising three children and running multiple businesses.

“I don’t think I do a good job juggling things, and it’s something that I’m very aware of — just trying to be present,” said Maple. Maple acknowledges that he is not perfect but does his very best to stay present in all aspects of his life. “I think just being aware, the boundaries... and I mean bourbon helps too.”

Maple, Benton, Wilson’s staff and the Lexington community are celebrating the store’s third anniversary this Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.


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