In 1990 husband and wife team, Jean-Noël and Mathilde Castanet, came up with an idea that would cater for the growing number of dissatisfied Americans who were having trouble finding US products in Paris. The Real McCoy, American grocery and deli officially opened its doors in 1990 on the 194 Rue de Grenelle in the 7th arrondissement.
Their immediate target consumer was obvious, as Jean-Noel explains: “If you’re an American in Paris and homesick you can find all the ingredients you need to make a cake that will remind you of home”. The initial reaction from French locals, however, was one of confusion; they perceived the store to be exclusively available for the American community and as result, largely ignored the concept at first. Fortunately, as the months passed the local market opened up. First came the French executives, the frequent flyers to the United States who had experienced the tastes of America and wanted to rediscover them once back in their home country. The next wave of local acceptance came from students, specifically those who had taken internships in the US; they found themselves in a similar situation to the executives and yearned for American goods. The concept firmly won the hearts of everyone. So much so, that it outgrew its initial retail space and a second store was opened a stone’s throw away in 2004. Today, The Real McCoy is adored by both Americans and locals, the number of French people in the store at any one time is the same as Americans.
This month marks a special occasion for The Real McCoy and its founders as they celebrate 25 years since the initial opening. The key to their success, Jean-Noël explains, is that they’ve always stocked seasonal products, in line with holidays and whatever is the current rage in the States, notably Harry Potter sweets.
When asked about the possible opening of a third store, Jean-Noël doesn’t give anything away, but his enigmatic smile suggests that there are future plans in the making for The Real McCoy!
Visit The Real McCoy at 49 avenue Bosquet and 194 Rue de Grenelle and 75007.
This article was originally printed in Expatriates Magazine issue 18 (November 2015). To share your community news, contact us here