History of the Anamoose Grocery Store
by Helen Nolden

November 1, 1995

Going through old newspaper clippings I’ve saved from years gone by, I found an article about the Albrecht brothers and the beginning of their grocery store in Anamoose.

It was in the spring of 1898 when Fred Albrecht left Chicago. He said when he stepped off the train in Anamoose; he stepped in a huge mud puddle. The section house, the only building in town, served as the depot, home for the railroad foreman and, at one time, it served as a café and hotel. It was there that Fred Albrecht lived for a while.

The first Albrecht store, a building about 25 x 20, was located where the old potato warehouse once stood. It was often used as a shelter for people who wanted to board the midnight Soo Line train.

Very soon, this building was moved to where Goodwin’s Grocery Store now stands. The original building is part of the present store. Lumber to build additions to the store and to build other stores that were springing up all over the community was hauled by means of lumber wagons. They had to make the trip to Harvey for the lumber.

In 1910, the present structure was completed. The father of Frank and Tom Rieder walked daily from the Reider farm, after his chores were done, to build the west wall of the store.

The Albrecht Store was spared the ravages of fire in all its years of existence. In 1907, a fire relentlessly destroyed four business places on the northwest end of Main Street, but heroic efforts of the citizenry prevented it from spreading further. It started during a thunderstorm, about midnight, in or between the pool hall and the Chapek & Becwar General Store. It was believed that lightening had started the fire.

The fire had made a lot of headway before it was discovered, so it was impossible to save the buildings, or contents in each store. The ringing of the school bell and shouting of the people were used to get volunteers to fight the fire. The cement wall of the Walker building stopped it from doing more damage. When the midnight train came in, many of the travelers got off the train to help with the fire fighting. Pat McCurdy was one of the farmers who rode horseback in the storm to help. Places destroyed were Chapek’s Pool Hall; Schmidt, Heitman & Gulak Machine Shed; the Chapek & Becwar Store; and the Commercial Hotel. One of the Albrecht brothers said their store was saved by using most of a carload of salt.

In the early 1900s, there was no Saturday business, as was the case in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Farmers would come by team, sled, or wagon at noon. That was the busy period for the stores.

Louis and Albert Albrecht soon joined Fred in the store business. In the first years, the brothers slept on the upper floor, counting stars and watching snow drift in through the roof. They also ate their meals upstairs, and many a time, friends got there first and lunched on the meal. So they ate crackers and sardines.

Many of the early settlers came with empty hands, so they needed credit. Credit was the rule then and some went for a year at a time. A number of these people mortgaged their homesteads to cover their debts, while others made debts and left the country.

In the early 1900s, grocery orders were mailed to Minneapolis on a Friday afternoon train, and the merchandise would be in the store on Monday afternoon. Wholesalers, too, extended credit for a year at a time.

W.F Albrecht joined the firm in 1924, and brother Eric in 1925. They saw the time when wheat was sold at 25 cents a bushel. They saw a time when there was no market for butterfat. They saw a time when taxes simply could not be paid because there was no money to pay them with or no place to borrow money.

Out of those difficult times, a new type of merchandising came into being. The Albrecht brothers joined Fairway Foods, a group of independent retailers who owned their own wholesale business. It grew because the idea was right. Later on, Our Own Hardware became a source of hardware. It was owned by the retailers who bought from it.

In 1969, when Eric and Wally Albrecht retired, they sold their store to Keith Schilling; then, his parents, the Louie Schillings, ran the store for some years. It was sold to a man named David Barton, who was only in there a few months.

Bill and LaDonna Goodwin bought the store from Barton and are still in the grocery business, something which a lot of Anamoose people really appreciate, especially us older citizens. I don’t drive, so it is a boon for me to go two blocks to buy my groceries.

It amazes me when I walk down Main Street in Anamoose and look at the stores which have withstood the years of progress. So many buildings have been changed into different stores, been torn down, or are standing empty. It makes me wonder what made the Albrecht store endure. It was always a grocery store, and no matter who the owner, they kept it a grocery.

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