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History of the Marketplace
Presentation to the Annandale History Club 
May 3, 2010
Marv Marohn

Marv's dad, Robert Marohn, grew up in Middleville Township and had a general store in Albion Center in the early 1920s.  He had an ice house filled with ice cut from Lake Henry during the winter and on the busiest days (creamery days),  he often buried cash in the sawdust in the ice house, which he called his bank.  There was a gas pump with a glass bulb, which wasn't very accurate in measuring the amount of gas sold. The Marohns lived on a farm where the Albion Ridges golf course is now located. In 1930 Robert and Martha Marohn and their two daughters moved to Annandale, and Marv was born there in 1931. Their house was on the northwest corner of Cherry and Birch where the St. Ignatius parking lot is now located.  Marv said that at first they had an outhouse in back of their house.

After Robert Marohn sold the general store in Albion Center, he started a poultry and egg business in Annandale. At that time most farmers had 300-400 laying hens. Grocery stores bought eggs for 35 cents a dozen or 38 cents in trade (always three cents more for trade). Robert Marohn had a regular route buying eggs from the grocery stores and delivering them to the city. The eggs were "nest run" eggs brought to the store in wooden cases and often uncandled. After WWII there were stricter laws about the handling of eggs.  At that time, Minnesota and Iowa produced eggs for the entire country.

There were more grocery stores at that time.  At one time there were six grocery stores in Watkins, three in South Haven (Jeppesen's, Lies' and Flygare's), and three in Fair Haven (Schwanke's, Lien's, and Hole's).  Annandale had many grocery stores over the years, among them Jude's, Schnackenberg's, Red &White, Oberg's, Magnuson's, Peery's, etc. The Variety Store also had a grocery section.  All did well. On creamery days, the parking spots were full.

There was no refrigeration of eggs in the stores. Current receipt, "nest run" eggs were sold. The chickens didn't lay as many eggs in the winter, so eggs were dipped in oil and put into cold storage.  Eggs were stored in Chicago to ship to all parts of the country.

Marv graduated from Annandale High School in 1949 and attended St. Cloud Teacher's College for one year. He transferred to the University of Minnesota and in 1953 earned a Bachelor's degree in Business. There was still a draft at that time, so Marv joined the Marine Corps PLC Program in college, spending two summers in training (one summer at Paris Island and one at Quantico).  After graduation from college, he was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps with a commitment to serve two years of active duty and six years in the reserve. The Korean War ended while he was in training, so he was fortunate not to serve during war time.

While serving at Camp Pendleton, Marv was sent to ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical Warfare) School at Treasure Island near San Francisco.  Marv became the ABC officer at Camp Pendleton.  Marv met his wife at Camp Pendleton.  Bernice was from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and was living in California with her sister and brother-in-law, Herb Orr, who was a career Marine. Herb Orr was a POW every day of WWII, having been captured at an embassy in China.  He also served in Vietnam. Bernice worked at the PX.  Marv had the job of inviting girls to come to a party for the servicemen at a Legion Club. He got change from Bernice at the PX for the phone call to a Long Beach Girls' Club.  Bernice decided to come to the party.

When Marv returned from the service he took over his dad's poultry and egg business.  He worked in the egg business for about ten years; however, the egg business was changing.  Large companies like Sparboe were in the business and there were no eggs to buy. Also, eastern and southern states were now in the egg business.  Marv sold insurance for one year with AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans), which later joined Lutheran Brotherhood. He wasn't happy in the insurance business, so he looked around for a grocery store to buy. There was a Jack & Jill Store in Annandale owned by Stan Hagstrom of Cokato, who had three or four stores at the time. Marv wanted to buy it and change it to a Red Owl store.  An executive with Nash Finch came to Marv's home, and said he couldn't buy the Jack & Jill store and that if anyone bought it, it would be Nash Finch. Marv said that he would build a store.  The executive's response was, "You build a store, and we'll bury you!"  So Marv proceeded to build a store.

Marv's Red Owl Store (1967-1995)

Emil Nylin had built Marv and Bernice's house, and he helped build the 50x100 ft. store on the northwest corner of Chestnut and Cherry. The lot needed quite a bit of fill to make it solid. The footings were in, and then it snowed and they couldn't get anyone to lay the blocks.  Emil Nylin put the corners in on a Sunday, and during the week Bernice mixed the concrete and Marv laid the blocks up to ground level. His dad, Robert Marohn, cut the ribbon to open  Marv's Red Owl store on March 15, 1967.  The store was open on Friday nights and Marv was the meat man, checkout and carry out.  Later Red Owl suggested that he should hire a butcher. Marv's downtown Red Owl Store closed in April 1995. The building is now the Annandale Community Education Center.

Annandale Marketplace

The 15,000 square foot Peery's Jack & Jill store at Highway 55 and Excelsior Avenue closed April 1, 1995, and Marv reopened it as Marketplace II, leasing the building from Jerry Peery for nine years.  Built by Carty and Les Magnuson in the mid-1940s as an International Harvester implement dealership, the Magnuson brothers converted it to an IGA grocery about 1956.  It became a Super Valu store until 1969 and Peery's Jack & Jill store 1971-1995. The Peerys leased the building to Marv Marohn 1995-2003. The new 45,000 square foot Annandale Marketplace opened November 5, 2003.      

Large vintage photographs of the Annandale area are displayed on the upper walls of the produce section at the Annandale Marketplace, including a photograph of the Albion Center store that Marv's dad once owned and the Red Owl store ribbon cutting ceremony in 1967.  Matt Marohn, Marv and Bernice's son, is a pilot, and he took the aerial photographs of the Annandale area displayed in the meat department.   

Buffalo Cub

In 1976 Marv built a warehouse-style store in Buffalo. He tried to buy land in Buffalo, but had to go outside the city limits and install his own water and sewer system. Marv also had to pay for a road from Highway 55 to the store. The city said that since he paid for the street, he could name it.  Marv named the street Orr, for his brother-in-law, Herb Orr. The land is now part of the City of Buffalo. The Buffalo Marketplace store opened in 1976 and was replaced in 1999 with a 75,000 square foot Cub store.  Connie Nelson started working at the Marv's Red Owl store during high school. When she finished her teaching degree, there were no teaching jobs in the area. Marv asked Connie to work for him full time.  She manages the Buffalo store.  Greg Potthoff and Brad Bouska also moved from the Annandale store to Buffalo. 

Cokato Marketplace

A warehouse-style Cokato Marketplace was built in 1981. A new 55,000 square foot Marketplace was built in 1993, with the original warehouse building used for storage. Larry Wasmund worked for Marv in Annandale, became manager of the Cokato Marketplace in 1981, and has been there ever since.

St. Michael Marketplace

The St. Michael store was planned and built as a Cub Store in 2007.  Super Value helped put it together.  A few months later, the Marohns were told it couldn't be a Cub store (possibly because of a competing Cub store in a nearby city).  Marv's son Bob owns the St. Michael Marketplace.

Marv still goes to work every day and divides his time between four stores.  It's a family business with his son Bob and daughter Julie Starke involved in the business. Julie came into the business three years ago. She had been a registered dietician with the VA Hospital in St. Cloud for 19 years and had taught college classes at St. Ben's. Marv doesn't know if any of his six grandchildren will take an interest in the business. He said that he has had many excellent employees and several long-time key employees. A couple of Marv's store trademarks are terrazzo floors and a seating area with free coffee at each store. Marv said that the grocery business has changed over the years.  He still enjoys the business.