Unless you are from my hometown (or similar) and/or lived there since the late 80's, you likely don't know what a blessing a small market is to a community. You never realize how convenient they are until you find yourself without one and have to drive 10 miles to get to a grocery store of any kind.
We had a nice grocery store when I was growing up in the Ville.
It was Behrman's IGA as far back as I can remember.
There you could get fresh meat from a butchers case, a real glass bottle of Coke-a-Cola, and if you were lucky the fella that stocked shelves would let you click off a couple of price tags from that neat little gadget he used. (The upper left image is Behrman's store as I first remember it.)
It sat on the corner of the street that the post office and the bank were both on. "Convenient," my grandmother said about "all the places she needed to go on Saturday morning, being right in a row like that." Convenient for me that all three places gave out treats to the kids tagging along with their mothers and grandmothers for errand day.
In the 70's, Al Behrman built the new IGA, a monster size building in comparison to the old one, and on the other side of the same lot from where the old store was on the corner.
It wasn't quite as warm and inviting as the old store but they carried so much more for their customers. They a larger section of fresh cut meats, fresh veggies and plenty anything else you could imagine. Not like a Wal Mart of Schnucks but there wasn't much they didn't carry.
The new store saved many a citizen a trip to Sparta.
The new building went without incident until one day an unattended child put their parents vehicle into drive and plowed into the side of the store. We all thought for sure they would put in a delivery window or another doorway but they just returned the wall to it's original splendor.
The store was taken over by the Jarrett's in the 80's and I believe they were the last family to run a grocery in the Ville.
The grocery eventually became a medical clinic.
So where did people buy their stuff without making a trip to Sparta?
Wiseley's owned the Mini Mart which was a convenience store and market combined. They were great about keeping all the necessities at hand, had a nice deli, but it still wasn't like having a grocery store in town. Priced like a convenience store, most people couldn't afford to do their regular shopping there. Mini Mart eventually moved and turned into Gas Mart, and they dropped their inventory to convenience foods and sandwiches. The small town grocery was truly gone.
Then a Casey's convenience store popped up.
At that point in time, if you needed a bag of sugar, gallon of milk, etc. and didn't want to pay a week's salary for it in a convenience store, you had to drive to Sparta to get it.
And that went on for years.
People from town learned to stock up better when they went shopping, or if you were like my sisters, you just learned to enjoy the drive to Sparta.
A few years back some locals opened a small market on the edge of town across the highway from where Omah's Restaurant used to be. They called it the A & B Dollar.
They had real grocery items, fresh produce, a meat counter, deli items, plate lunches and sandwiches. Of course there was also a multitude of convenience items, but but it was a big step up from a convenience mart.
The A & B closed down and was out of business for awhile when another couple came in and re-opened the place.
This time they called it Eagle Market.
Again they stocked it like a market, offer fresh meats, produce and deli items, and they sell carry out beer and sandwiches.
They went a step further and opened a drive through window and added a frozen food section.
The drive through window makes it simple to buzz through and grab a soda on the run, or one of my favorites, an iced coffee.
My mother has shopped there for almost two years, enjoying the convenience of skipping the ride to Sparta, as did many people from town I am sure.
Last year there was talk of building onto the place and extending the kitchen to offer plate lunches and other restaurant style foods. They even poured the foundation to start the expansion.
A few months ago my mother went to work for the current owners.
I am not quite sure what all she does there now, but she enjoys her job, and I know some of what she does is preparing food. There was talk of her cooking for Eagle Market in the beginning and recent conversation with her indicates that she will indeed be preparing meals for the market sometime soon. (Thank goodness she won't be wearing the eagle costume to do so.)
It's my understanding that the folks who run Eagle Market, James and Debra, have purchased the old lumber yard building. They will be moving the market there as soon as the building has been brought up to date and remodeled to accommodate their needs for the new store.
They will sell all the same great stuff, just doing it on a larger scale. And indeed, they will be extending their kitchen and offering daily plate lunch specials, prepared by the mother of yours truly.
Now for those of you who know my mother, you realize how wildly exciting this is for her. You know what an excellent cook she is.
For her it's a chance to feed the masses and for the masses living back in the Ville, well, it means you'll need to let your belt out a little.
My mother's cooking abilities proceed her and I hope the folks back home will soon be taking the opportunity to enjoy the foods that I so dearly miss while living all the way over here in Missouri. Some of Sally's turkey and homemade dressing sounds pretty good right now. Or maybe some of her fried rice, which is nothing like any oriental fried rice you have ever eaten. Who knows what she will be serving up from day to day.
I for one am excited, not only for my mother, but for all the folks back in the Ville. Their grocery market is stable and expanding, including my mother's home cooking.
Both images of the IGA came from Sherry Kilgrew, shared on the FB page, "If you grew up in Coulterville you probably remember.."
Both images of Eagle Market (and their mascot:-) came from the FB page of Eagle Market.
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