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January 05, 2009

Here's some from a piece by reporter Laura Gossman from LeRoy:

59412317_907507a1f0 Not many grocery stores can claim they’ve been open for nearly 80 years and even fewer stores can carry the Red Owl name.

Brownlow’s Red Owl Grocery Store in LeRoy has been serving customers in the area since Bernard Brownlow purchased the store in 1931.

Store owner Kay McCloud said SuperValu bought out the Red Owl name in 1988 and the grocery store went with Affiliated Foods, so it had to remove its Red Owl sign.

McCloud recently decided to go with a different grocery company, Mason Brothers, and SuperValu agreed to let her put the iconic “Red Owl” letters back on the store’s front. It’s one of two known Red Owl stores left in the United States. The other store is in Green Bay, WIs.

McCloud is the granddaughter of Bernard Brownlow. Her father, Robert Brownlow bought the store from his father in 1956.

“He’s 75 and still cuts meat at the store everyday,” McCloud said of her father.
McCloud said she’s worked at the store since she was 12 and little has changed inside the store over the years.

She took over management of the store in 2004 and her daughter, Liz Miles, also helps run the business. McCloud is married to Billy McCloud.

Over the years, McCloud has collected Red Owl memorabilia and she displays her finds throughout the store.

The collection includes Red Owl playing cards, Red Owl Motor Oil ads and old Red Owl aprons.

Some of the items collected were found in the store’s basement and others  McCloud bought on eBay auctions.

“Six months ago, a lady from Minneapolis wanted to borrow some of our stuff for a movie,” McCloud said. “We’ve had people come from all over the state to see the store. It’s funny what people from big cities do for entertainment.”

McCloud said 11 other grocery stores have gone through LeRoy over the years, but her family’s store is the only one that has persevered.

She said in order to make a small-town grocery store profitable, the owners have to run it themselves.


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The last Red Owl I've been into was in Faribault, and also recall one here in Rochester at the now River Center Plaza, but someone else tells me no, it was at the Cross Road center...??

I thought there was one in Miracle Mile around 1989

About 30 years ago, I believe Red Owl was in Apache Mall about where the food court is now and also at Miracle Mile about where the Chinese Buffet is located

I remember River Center Plaza and Miracle Mile. Piggly Wiggly was at Crossroads and several other places in town. I think there was a grocery store at Apache, but don't recall the name.

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