The sign in Grannie Fuchs’ store in Metamora is pretty direct: “You break it – you own it.” Fair warning to those who cruise the tiny shop full of items easily shattered. But the admonition also applies to an honor about to be bestowed by the folks at Guinness World Records who agree that once a record is broken you also own it…at least until they say otherwise.
What’s the record we’re talking about? Grannie Fuchs’ little store, officially known as Grannie’s Ice Cream and Cookie Jars, features more than 2,500 different cookie jars. Wait, I should be specific. (You know how fussy those Guinness people are.) That would be 2,653, to be exact…and it never changes. Once a jar is sold, it’s quickly replaced on the shelf. That’s the most cookie jars on public display anywhere in the world.
Folks entering the store are immediately overwhelmed, often thinking they’ve happened upon a museum and not a retail establishment. Many see jars they remember from childhood. “I had my hand slapped several times dipping into that one,” remembers one customer.
Grannie, 77, who suffers from a touch of Alzheimer’s, still maintains an encyclopedic memory of her inventory. On a recent buying trip, she picked out 135 jars, each of them unique to the store’s collection. “That’s one thing she never forgets. She’s knows everything we have for sale,” says her daughter Connie, who along with her sister, helps maintain the shop, one of the few in Metamora open year-round.
Where does Grannie find her cookie jars? Estate sales, cookie jar auctions (yes, they exist) and garage sales, where she often gets a really good deal. A jar she buys for three bucks can go for quite a bit more if it’s unusual.
Several manufacturers bring in top dollar, especially the McCoy Co. Some makers have used the McCoy name on the bottom of their jars illegally when reproducing the item, thus the origin of the phrase “The Real McCoy.” There are several alternative theories on the genesis of this expression, but this one works best in this story.
The only food they sell is the best darn-tootin’ ice cream in a waffle cone you’ll ever taste. “People wonder why we don’t sell cookies,” says Connie. “I really don’t know why people ask that.” Yeah, what a silly question.
Earlier in this column I noted that Grannie’s store would be in the Guinness World Records, but I have just learned that this has not been made official yet. So, for now, let’s keep a lid on it.