Anoka County History: When Anoka had 15 grocery stores

While watching a city of Anoka council meeting the other night on television, one of the items on the agenda was the need for a grocery store in town.

This has been talked about for a number of years lately.

Being a lifelong resident of the city, it made me think of the 1930s, and 1940s, when I was growing up, and there were only about 3,500 people in the city and about 1,000 more in the surrounding area, and when we had 15 grocery stores , two butcher shops and two bakeries.

Anoka Township (now Coon Rapids) had about 300 people, Grow Township (now Andover) had about 200 people, Ramsey Township had around 150 residents, Champlin Township had about 200 residents, all for a total of less than 5,000 people.

Today, Anoka has a population of about 18,000, Coon Rapids is over 60,000, Andover is about 20,000, Ramsey is about 20,000 and Champlin is about 25,000, for a total of about 150,000 who have their grocery needs served by big box stores – all outside of Anoka’s city limits.

We do have Grass Roots Cooperative, Mike’s Discount Foods, and a number of convenience stores within the city boundaries.

I can name nearly all of the stores in the 1930s and 1940s and their locations. I can even picture them in my head.

There was C.J. Thomas, Central Market, and Bonnells — all of which were side by side on Second Avenue North between Main Street and Jackson.

There were more on east Main; Red and White, National Tea, Jack Sprat, Tiesen’s and Norval Olson’s on Seventh and Main.

On West Main we had Jepson’s at Ferry Street. There was Peterson’s at Wingfield Ave. South Ferry and Benton had Boudrey’s, which was later Matheny’s, and still later Dawson’s.

North Ferry and Pleasant had Bryer’s. On North Fourth and North Street was Lindstrom’s. And on North Street and Fourth we had Johnson’s. North Seventh was home to Knodt’s.

We also had Joslyn’s and Morses’s in Champlin.

In addition to all this we had two butcher shops and seven of the above stores also had full meat departments.

The two bakeries I mentioned earlier were Brezler’s on West Main and Shannehar’s on Jackson Street.

I should also like to mention that Al Neilson’s Central Market was the first in town to introduce shopping carts.

Previous to that, we clerked and carried out the sacks to the customer’s car.

I worked for Mr. Neilson on Saturdays for three years when I was in high school and got $3 for a 14-hour day.
Eat well this weekend.

Editor’s note: Tom Ward serves on the Anoka County Historical Society’s board of directors.

Comments Closed