I always remember the IGA store. The first one was a smaller store where the current Sunnyside Drug is. When they built the "new store" on the corner of Hill and Cameron Avenue it was so big through the lens of my childhood eyes.It was actually Stein Brother's IGA, but we often just called it Stein's or IGA. Recently a big change happened for the first time since 1929. It is now Stein's Family Foods. As Larry Stein states on their web site, "Stein's was founded in 1929 in Kellogg, Idaho and is currently owned and operated by the grandchildren of it's founder, Ed Stein. We have built our business over the years by striving to have the finest meats and produce available along with outstanding customer service."
We knew all the Steins. There were the older Stein brothers that ran the stores. Their children started out as box boys or worked in the bakery, then moved up to being checkers and now managers/owners of the stores. I like it when there is continuity and you can count on things being the same. I always felt that way at Stein's IGA. The bakery filled the store with wonderful smells in the early morning hours. When you entered the store and turned right you could always count on Chuck greeting you from the produce department. Ed would be chopping steaks in the meat department and telling Mom what cuts of meat were fresh and a "really good buy". Sally and Vi would always have a kind word to say at the checkout line.
My mom has shopped at IGA for more than fifty years. She buys one prime rib a year at Christmas from the meat department. She still cuts coupons and keeps the checkers honest as she scans her receipt before she leaves the store making sure she saved what she thought she should. If she gets a watermelon in the summer and doesn't think it is good, she drives right back over and takes it back. They always find a new one that is better. Mom has been loyal to Steins and they have treated her right.
I used to enjoy going to Stein's with Mom when she did her Saturday shopping. I always hoped we could get freshly made maple bars, candy, Captain Crunch or Alpha Bits. For Mom shopping at IGA was a social event. From the time she hit the produce department until she wound around the last aisle before checkout she usually stopped and visited with ten or twenty people. Sometimes it was just a greeting, but often it was a longer conversation about family, buys in the store, or school. All the women in Mom's family ( including Silver Valley Girl and myself) have voices that carry. They are loud and they boom. I could have been checking out Teen Beat magazine six aisles over and I could hear Mom greeting her friend Yvonne in produce. We used to chuckle as we traced Mom's Saturday journey through the store. It wasn't hard to figure out where she was. Her voice carried through the store as she chatted with Penny at the soup aisle, Joan in dairy, and many box boys including my brother later when in search of a particular product.
As we hauled groceries into the house after the hours in IGA Dad always made some comment like," Jeeze Mary... is there anything left in the store?" or " How can it take you that long to get groceries? Did you talk to every person in the store and parking lot?", or "Did you remember my Heidelberg?" I listened to Mom review her whole trip to my dad, filling him in on news, a bit of gossip, and who she saw. I think Mom liked her weekly social ritual.
I understand that the name had to change recently because IGA no longer has a warehouse in Spokane. Stein's Family Foods just doesn't sound right. Stein Brother's IGA is the name I will always remember. To learn more about the renamed Stein's Family Foods in Kellogg, Idaho you can go here.
For the Sunday Scribbling Smorgasbord this week I chose change. To see the rest of the buffet go here.