The closing of the “old” Owen’s, located just west of downtown Warsaw, has struck a resounding chord with many people in the community. Comments lamenting the loss of another grocery store and retail outlet on that side of town and diatribes against greedy corporate suits have permeated the social media airwaves. I don’t know much about all of that but I know why I’m going to miss it and it’s personal for me.
I can still remember sitting in the car with my now-deceased father on multiple evenings as we patiently waited for my mom to finish grocery shopping. Since we lived in town, we had always gone to Owen’s with occasional side trips to Woodie’s or Marsh when it was actually located over a former marsh. We never went to the “new” Marsh – that was where people who made a lot more money than my state-employed dad would go to overpay for their groceries. Plus, he was Dutch so his cheap blood couldn’t stomach the thought of paying more for bananas just because the store was fancier. Now I miss my dad every day and each time one of these places closes, a little bit of our memories together fades away.
I also remember trips with my wife and kids to Owen’s. We became friendly with the employees – we knew their names and they knew ours. If we saw them around town, we would fire off a friendly wave and “hello.” I vividly recall one conversation we had with a cashier. As we were checking out with Harper and a newborn Hayes, she remarked that they were excited to be able to watch a second child of ours grow up as all of the employees gathered around nodded in agreement. It was a simple remark but to us, it meant the world. They noticed our kids and were excited to see them grow up.
That’s what I’m going to miss. I think when people settle down and take the time to think about why they’re really upset with the closing of Owen’s, it’s going to be something more powerful than greedy suits or retail trends. It’s going to be because a part of them is closing, too. Personal relationships and experiences that hearken back to a simpler time will be just a memory when the doors shut for the last time at Owen’s.
Compared to the new grocery stores in town, she’s looking old and tired so maybe it’s best to close this chapter for now.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t issue a heartfelt “thank you” to all of the wonderful employees we interacted with. For a busy family with two young kids, your kindness and helpful attitude made our grocery shopping trips a little bit easier. Plus, the promise of suckers at checkout never hurt either.
Thanks for the memories, Owen’s, and thanks for always being there when three generations of the Westerhof family needed you.