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True Grinnellian: Cory and Alicia Blankenfeld


As both business and romantic partners, Cory and Alicia Blankenfeld have taken a long journey together in the Grinnell community. The owners of the successful local business Total Choice Shipping and Printing, which has become a staple in meeting the shipping and printing needs of the community and College, the couple dated in high school and married after college.

The road to their successful business and marriage was not always smooth, however, and the couple experienced many bumps along the road. Their romance started with a bantering back and forth that still continues today when trying to tell their story.

“He was a year older than me,” Alicia said.

“You were a freshman and I was a sophomore in high school,” Cory added.

“No. That’s not how it happened,” Alicia cut in. “I was a freshman when I met [Cory], but one of his friends liked me. So Cory would tease me about [his friend] liking me.”

One summer at Dari Barn, Alicia eventually came to realize the true meaning behind this teasing, and Cory’s affections becoming clear.

“I worked at Dari Barn and Cory would come with his little group of friends and just order tons of food and sit there and stare at me through the windows while I was making food,” Alicia said.

“I had no game,” Cory added, shaking his head.

Matchmaking from the couple’s friends ensued and the pair had their first date on August 27, 1995. A week later, they had their first kiss in front of another local favorite, the Danish Maid Bakery.

Cory and Alicia Blankenfeld run Total Choice Shipping and Printing in downtown Grinnell. Photo by Leina'ala Voss.
Cory and Alicia Blankenfeld run Total Choice Shipping and Printing in downtown Grinnell. Photo by Leina’ala Voss.

“And it was a first kiss fail,” Alicia recalled. “Cory was very goofy and obnoxious and that’s kind of how our first kiss was.”

After high school, the couple went their separate ways for college, with Alicia attending Coe College and Cory attending Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, and they struggled with the challenge of a long distance romance.

“[It was] off and on,” Cory said.

“The sweetheart thing didn’t really continue into college,” Alicia said. “But I can say that most people who knew us back then would almost think that it’s surprising that we’re still together.”

Despite these difficulties, however, the couple married in May 2003 and started their business together about a year later. Alicia was working in Boone, Iowa with the Chamber of Commerce there and developed a reputation as a savvy saleswoman. The couple’s business came about through a series of happy accidents that showed them it was the right step to make.

“Through a friend and a newspaper ad that came out in the Grinnell Herald [Register], we made the connection that we should open a store,” Alisha said. “So we opened our store in November 30 of 2004 and we just celebrated 10 years.”

The couple’s long history together now makes them work well together as business partners. Total Choice Shipping and Printing serves a wide range of customers, including college students.

“We’ve dealt with all sorts of circumstances,” Alicia said. “And that has evolved into doing a lot of printing, a lot of end of school storage … It’s just something that we look at each semester and each year and we just add to it and change, tweak to work better and more efficiently.”

Throughout their 10 years of marriage and business, and their long romantic history, the couple has matured and learned a lot about business, marriage and communication.

“Cory and I met when we were immature and we had to mature together,” Alicia said. “And whether that’s maturing in a relationship sense—getting to know each other, respecting each other, getting through life challenges … and to start up a business and work together and continue to grow that business is a continual maturity episode. So we’re continually working together and figuring out ways to communicate with each other. There are days when it’s a fail but I think that’s completely normal in a marriage.”

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    Alicia & Cory BlankenfeldFeb 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you for a writing such a wonderful article, Grace! Kudos to Leina’ala for the photo of us!