Fond memories of Einar’s

Dear editor,

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Dick Gustafson, and we reminisced about Einar’s Store.

My time at Einar’s Foods started in the fall of 1982. Dick, Gary, and Bobby took me in as stock boy, and delivery driver that fall. I recall Einar’s being very busy in those times. My sister Lisa was still in school but worked there in the summer. Einar’s was just down the street from my childhood home, and well known in Fort Frances at this time for the best of everything.

One of the first things Dick taught me, and everyone that worked there I am sure, was carry the groceries out for our clients. Didn’t matter if it was -40 below, we prided ourselves on that customer service of helping the client out to the vehicles with the groceries. Dick was all about customer service, something his father (Einar Gustafson) taught him I am sure

Dick(Richard) ran the front end, and he worked tirelessly to ensure that the customers at Einar’s had the best produce, fresh vegetables, and stock that a consumer could want. Einar’s was closed on Sundays and Mondays, but if you drove past, you would often see Dick in the store, even late at night, making sure everything was perfect.

Gary and Bobby would often be accompanying him and making sure Einar’s had top quality meats and that everything was spotless.

Long days in this business, open Tuesday to Saturday 8-6 and Fridays until 9 p.m. There were no real lunch breaks, you took your breaks when you could, when and if someone didn’t need something. On Fridays however, often times Mrs. Gustafson(Alice) would make dinner for us, she would make sure we ate dinner. Mrs. Gustafson would bring down homemade cookies for a snack and could be seen when the store was busy assisting Jean at the front end. If you needed something, or wanted something, all you had to do was phone and Dick would either have it or get it for you. Dick prided himself on that type of customer service. Mr. Gerber would bring in fresh potatoes, corn, broccoli, fresh cauliflower came from Mr. Vanderhorst, and frozen foods came from Ernie Thompson.

Dick, Gary and Bobby treated everyone the same, did not matter if it was the vice president of the United states (yes, he stopped at Einar’s foods once) or an elderly retired pensioner, you received the same service.

Fridays mornings for me though where a special time a time I will never forget. Friday Morning the phone would start ringing and all of our elderly clients wanted delivery on Friday mornings. Often I would bring the groceries in, help them put the groceries away and take the box out with me when I left. I used to deliver to Mrs. Hollands, of Hollands Jewellers. She was quite elderly then (to me anyway). After she got to know me, she would say, just come in, put the groceries away, and would you mind feeding the cat as well please? Yes ma’am, no problem, more than happy to help out. Our elderly clients often treated you as one of their grand children – baking was often available to snack on and you could not leave the house without something. It was a different time – a time you respected and treated others differently than now.

My time with Einar’s foods lasted until 1985 when I took a job with the new IGA store, something I thought was better. Well, we no longer have an IGA in Fort Frances do we?

I don’t get into Fort Frances as much as I should anymore, but when I do, I am saddened by the look of the store now, all papered over on the windows, empty. I understand the new owner just passed away not long ago. My condolences to his family and friends. I wonder what will happen to this once busy hub of the community now?

Some things should remain the same. Einar’s Foods will always be one of those places that served the community with pride.

Thank you for your time.

Mark G. Dyrland

Thunder Bay