Changing of hands at Young’s General Store: After 113 years, Young family hands over reins
For 113 years, Young’s General Store located in Middle River remained in the Young family name. On October 1, that run officially came to end, but the store continues to operate.
On that October 1 day, Steve and Bobbi (Young) Holm and Patsy Young sold Young’s General Store to another Middle River family, the Stromsodts. Husband and wife, Steve and Bobbi Holm looked back at the store’s history, their time within it, some of their most enjoyable moments, and their reaction to the Stromsodt family purchasing it.
Going back, an individual by the last name of Hjertos (first name unknown) owned the business. Then, Bobbi Holm’s grandfather, Henry Young, assumed ownership and started Young’s General Store in 1907. Henry would own a confectionary store across the street from Young’s General Store before that time at the current location of the Middle River American Legion.
Later on, Henry Young fell and never recovered very well from it, Bobbi explained. Then her father and Henry’s son, Howard Young, serving in World War II, returned home early from that service and took over the store.
Henry Young passed away in the last 1940’s. Howard still ran the store when his daughter and Bobbi’s sister Patsy Young started working there in about 1975. Then Bobbi and Steve came back to work at the store in 1979. Howard continued to work at the store until his passing in 2000.
“The generations overlapped and worked together,” Steve said.
In terms of ownership in the Young family, it went from Henry, then to Howard and finally to Bobbi and Patsy. At the time of this latest ownership transition, Steve was working at the store as a carryout boy.
Asked why it was important to keep the business in the family, Bobbi first explained how they started running the store when her father needed the help.
“He (Howard) was very excited to have Steve there,” Bobbi said. “And we came back to try it and then just never left. Steve liked it.”
It was a chance, Steve, added, to carry on the family tradition. Running the store also worked out well for them from a family perspective.
“It was so nice being in here raising the kids, with all the family in here between Patsy, Howard and Howard’s wife,” Steve said. “… Basketball games, taking off early to go to the different activities, it was nice and flexible. (It) really worked out nice for us.”
Speaking of family, the Holm family includes three children: Larissa (Willett), Breanna (Super), and Jordan.
Over its time running the store, Patsy, Bobbi and Steve gradually saw the store change as the needs of its community changed.
“So many other businesses in Middle River have gone out of business,” Steve said.
As a result, when the town’s hardware store closed, Young’s bought a building for additional space and expanded to include a hardware department.
Then, Middle River lost its drug store. As a result, Young’s started selling drugs, newspapers, magazines, and school supplies. It stepped up to carry merchandise that the community needed.
“So it (the store) was always growing, filling in the needs of the community,” Steve said. “Over the years as we (Middle River) lost other businesses, our business would grow.”
Today, the store includes a variety of products, including groceries, produce, meats, health and beauty aids, children and baby clothes, men’s clothes, men’s work boots, women’s essentials, toys, giftware, hardware such as electrical and plumbing products, sports goods, game and fish liceneses, lottery games, china, threads and embroidery patterns, cookie cutters and other baking items, pots and pans, coffee makers, and the list continues.
“Carrying the large inventory that we have with unique items, it was kind of like a drawing card,” Steve said. “People from Northwest Minnesota would come here to find items that other stores weren’t carrying, one of a kind items that they could find here.”
And so came the store’s famed slogan, one heard on the radio, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
Steve added how he thought TRF radio voice, Mark Allen, started that.
“Howard (Young) said, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t say that, you know,’ and so then we’d always say, ‘As they say,’ (before the slogan) to try to blame it on somebody else, rather than us,” Steve said. “But, yeah, so a lot of people do say that, and we’ve used that here and there over the years.”
In the family’s last days at the store, Steve said many people expressed their appreciation to them and the impact of their run ending.
“So many people have come in the last few days,” Steve said, “… wishing us well and thanking us for the years of service that we’ve done for them, which is nice.”
These types of comments make them feel appreciated and cared about by their customers.
“One guy was in today (September 30). He said, ‘It just won’t be the same.’ And I told him, ‘Nope, it’ll be much better,’” Steve said with a chuckle.
He said the new owners, the Stromsodt family, bring much energy and a fresh look at things. The transition between the two parties proved to be a smooth one, Steve and Bobbi reported.
“We just really hope that the whole area supports them,” Steve said, “really comes out and supports them so they can keep it going.”
To see the complete story, read the October 14 issue of The Tribune in print or online.