Every town had one. Every single town.

OK, I may be overstating that just a wee little bit. Every town didn't have one. But to a ten-year-old kid, it sure seemed like it.

A Red Owl grocery store.

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Now, in the interest of honesty, this was more than a few years (decades) back, before the advent of the 'Super Store' or the 'Super Center' or the 'Big Box Store' or whatever they're called now. From the little farm I grew up on in southwest Minnesota, there were Red Owls all over, or at least so it seemed. Was there one in Pipestone? Luverne? Worthington? Slayton? Well, I'm not sure exactly, but I do remember this:

We would either grocery shop in a Piggly Wiggly or a Red Owl... somewhere. So yes thank you very much, in a ten-year-old's eyes, Red Owl was everywhere.

And now it seems like they're nowhere. I mean, I don't think I've seen a Red Owl for years and years. Have they been consigned to the dusty history bin of yesteryear?

Well, no, not exactly.

Come to find out, Red owl began in the 1920s as a...coal store. (Hmm, not many of them around anymore either I suppose).

And did you know the first ever Red Owl was not all that far from Sioux Falls? Yep, with the opening of that very first store in Rochester, Minnesota, they eventually popped up throughout the upper Midwest (See, I told you they were everywhere!). There were over 400 stores at one time. So, if there wasn't one on your hometown, there was a real good chance there was one in the next town down the highway.

Now without getting too boring (is it too late for that?), the stores were eventually bought out and the Red Owl name was phased out.

But, but, but...

According to Wikipedia, there is still a few Red Owl's spread around. They also said there was a Red Owl in Waubay, South Dakota for over 60 years until it became an independent store in 2003.

But the memories are still there for me. Mom letting me pick out a favorite breakfast cereal (or the variety pack, that was the best), perhaps one of those 3-packs of comic books that came in the clear plastic and maybe a candy bar at the checkout counter.

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.