I think there have to be lots of families that share one common detail. Maybe it’s something pleasant, like they all golf. Maybe it’s something worse, like they all smoke crack. Among plenty of families in this world there is a bond that they can speak about over dessert after dinner. In my family it was grocery stores.
Almost 40 years ago my grandpa opened his first grocery store in Minneapolis. I cannot remember what it was called when he opened it, but when I was born it was called King’s SuperValu. Since, there have been several stores built and opened, sold and bought under many different names. Currently there are four still owned by my extended family.
During those forty years the following family members have worked at the stores: my mom, my dad, my two sisters, myself, four uncles, one aunt, five cousins, and to prove it’s a small world both tg and his mother worked there in the past.
When I was young we would go shopping as a corny little family and see literally all of the extended family we had in the area while we were in the store. My two sisters and I were allowed to walk into the stock rooms and receive damaged Popsicles from our uncles. We were shown off to the pretty cashiers. This makes me wonder if we were paraded as toddlers to be chick magnets for my uncles, who were then unmarried.
All my life “going to the store” meant going to the family store closest to wherever we lived at the time. I was not allowed to look messy when we went and I was not for any reason under the sun allowed to go into another grocery store unless we were on vacation.
Sister, Me, Sister, Cousin- Minnesota store.
When I was fifteen, my dad decided he would like to buy his own store. He wanted to own one in his home state of Washington. Off we went to Oroville, a town smaller than your coffee table and we were then the new-business-owning family in town.
The store was small, with only a dozen or so employees. My family accounted for half of those employees being as my cousin had moved to the town to work in the store as well. Our first week living there the humble newspaper printed a story about us with a wonderfully embarrassing photo of the family in it. So much for quietly easing my way into my new high school.
I think we look more like a bowling team-Oroville store.
I worked there nights and weekends without choice for the next several years. I did, however, enjoy it. My favorite nights to work were with my sister Sarah. She had a care free attitude towards the job and took full advantage of her cute-as-a-button-innocent look.
For instance: when my dad asked her to make a sign for the cantaloupe melons on sale for 39 cents a pound, she drew a picture of a bride crying and a sheepish looking groom. Underneath the picture she wrote:
“Can’t Elope-39 Cents.”
Other masterpieces of hers included making a sign for bundles of wood that said:
Bundle’s of Wood Joy! 2.49
I think my favorite Sarah moments were the times that high school boys would enter the store. I was on the shy side and she loved to announce to them as they entered, “My sister told me she has a crush on you!” And I would be stuck there, my mouth slightly opened in shock, trying to figure out how to dismiss this claim. My only method for revenge was to post less than flattering pictures of herself to our schools bulletin board located in the commons area. She, of course, would retaliate with worse pictures of me in the same space the next day.
I did actually work some of the time I was there. I cashiered, I manned the video department, and I faced the shelves. Facing is just making it look like they are all full and pretty by pulling the boxes and the cans forward to the front of the shelf.
In 2000, my parents stopped with the grocery owning business and we all ended up in Seattle, with the exception of my oldest sister who decided to marry and dwell in Oroville, possibly forever. It was the first time I did not have a store to shop at that was my family’s in my whole life. And to be honest, it was weird.
Now I live back in MN, but too far to shop at any of the family stores. So, I pretty much starve.