Very shortly, the wrecking ball will begin the process of taking down the old IGA, now the 24-hour Foodland on Mulcaster St near Collier.
The store is coming down to make way for a substantial condo/commercial/residential development. Ultimately there will be a bigger Food Store incorporated into the development. But, that will take some time.
Meanwhile, downtown residents will be pleased to know there’s a new food store, Local Foods Mart, opening in the next two weeks at 123 Dunlop St E. It’s a 100-mile food store, acquiring its wares from within 100 miles of Barrie, when possible.
And so, there is a solution.
But this really makes me look back to Kid One, the carriage, one car and grocery shopping. As a parent, I was determined that our kids would learn to not get in the car for every little thing and we walked pretty well everywhere. We lived in the East End, close to downtown, and so the one grocery store at our disposal in the late 70’s was the IGA. It was owned by Frank Macklem and his daughter Sally and son-in-law Bob Rogers were mainstays among employees. They had a real butcher, antiques all over the store, a player piano that entertained all day long.
If you want to see a sense of wonder on a kid’s face (in those days, anyway) put him in front of a player piano and see the keys play without anybody touching them!
The other wonderful feature was the coin-fed horse at the front of the store… usually reward for good behaviour while shopping.
The Macklems had little tiny shopping carts for kids to push around and when Kid One got old enough to do that, it was a right of passage.
As I say, we were pretty determined to take things for repair by pulling them in our wagon, and walking down with the wicker pram, later with a stroller, to get the groceries.
Now, doing at least a week’s worth of groceries meant many bags, heavy bags, and one of the great things about how the Macklems ran their business is that after the cashier rang you through, fingers whipping along the cash register keys as your total grew, you’d pay $1.50 more and at some point that day, the IGA truck would drive into your driveway and drop off your boxes of groceries.
It was wonderful!
Mulcaster is a steep hill and grocery delivery let us stop at a park, visit with Barb & Kristian on the way home, and not worry about the condition of the ice cream. Macklems took care of all of it!
And the horse! How could I foget about the horse??? For two or three years, just being lifted up onto the horse was the big treat. How could Kid One know it actually moved? So sitting on the horse and pretending to ride was a thrill til some soul popped a dime into the slot and the kid took off! Riding the horse got more expensive after that!
It’s funny how you just accept change without remembering what preceded it until you really sit and think about it.
I’m sure the Foodland store today knows its customers by name, just as the Macklems did. I’m sure the stock carried is for the unique customer base that’s using the store. Every time I pop in for some item or other, it feels like a good store.
But thinking back to early days, 32 years ago only, lets me (and now, you) remember the Macklems, the decor, the remarkable piano that played all by itself and the horse! And, most important, the delivery service.
Thanks, Macklem family. And thanks, Bob Rogers!