From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
When Jim and Will Higgins open the door of their grocery store on August 20, 1900, it was to be a long time before they finally closed it.
But that closing came at 6 o'clock last night, when the brothers lock up to conclude their last day of business in the little corner store at 121 North Fifth.
The corner location is the second one the business has occupied in its 49½-year history.
The Higgins brothers' first store was across the street, at 112 North Fifth.
At that time, the City Hall was non-existent, and the store was across the alley from Market Hall, where the city fire department was housed.
"Whenever the fire bell sounded, all the horses in the fire station begin to prance automatically," mused Jim, who signs himself J. J. Higgins.
J. J. Higgins, who will be 80 years old next month, is the elder of the two brothers. The other, W. F. Higgins, is 77.
Born in Easton, the brothers worked at the grocery business here a few years before the turn of the century.
They opened their own store at a location where Herman Witt previously had a grocery. The had three delivery wagons--horsedrawn, of course--ad drivers. The wagon gave way to a second-hand truck about 20 years later.
In 1910 the store was moved to its present location on the corner of Fifth and Seneca. The years went by, and countless changes came--in the grocery business and in the world in general.
Their stock changed from bulk goods in drawers to rows of metal cans on the shelves.
"Our customers have always been wonderful, and we've appreciated their business immensely," both brothers agreed yesterday.
Their policy has always been to handle only the best brands of food, the brothers recall, and business was good enough that they never found it necessary to advertise, or to hold a bargain sale.
To its closing day, their store still had many fixtures which dated back several decades, mingling with a few new pieces and an up-to-date line of merchandise.
When the brothers went into business, they made their first purchase of stock from Sprague Warner and Company, a Chicago, Ill., wholesale house. They stayed on that firm's customer list through the years, and yesterday as they closed, there were a few boxes of goods in the store which had just arrived from the same distributor.
The business has been purchased by Ben Shaw, operator of Ben's Budget. The word in business circles is that Shaw will open a modern grocery at the location.
Questioned about their own plans, the Higgins brothers had little to say. Both agreed they'd like to stay around home a while. Forty-nine years of tending shop is a long, long time.