Glader’s Grocery, 2001

December 5, 2001

The loss of neighborhood grocery stores had been well-documented in Duluth in recent years. In the past several years alone, we’ve lost Bay Side Market on Park Point and Romano’s Grocery downtown, and temporarily lost Fourth Street Market, though that store has now reopened.

Here’s a 2001 profile of another store that hung on for years in West Duluth – Glader’s Grocery:

Wendy Glader stocks the shelves one afternoon in the the tiny West Duluth grocery store that has been owned by her family since she was 11. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

DEVOTED GROCER

GLADER’S ENDURES AS ONE OF THE CITY’S LAST SMALL GROCERIES

By Baird Helgeson, Duluth News Tribune

Wendy Glader can’t imagine life without her tiny West Duluth grocery store.

Glader’s Grocery has been in her family for 30 years, since she was 11 years old.

The tiny three-aisled grocery store, at 5912 Raleigh St., sits between Grand Avenue and the St. Louis Bay, barely visible to passing traffic.

“I grew up here,” she said. “I can’t remember a holiday or a birthday that wasn’t spent here.”

Glader’s is a well-scrubbed but aging nook in a largely residential neighborhood.

The aisles are filled with bread, soup and Hamburger Helper. Coolers are stocked with frozen pizzas, TV dinners and Popsicles. The shelves behind the counter have a few batteries, aspirin and ponytail scrunchies.

She keeps a list of customers who have bounced checks in plain view as an embarrassing deterrent to those thin on cash but full of checks. “You start getting a lot of bad checks around Christmas time,” she said.

A picture of Jesus Christ hangs on the wall, not because of any particularly strong devotion, but because that’s where it has hung for 80 years, since the building was a butcher shop.

“We haven’t touched the picture since we owned it; but I probably should dust it,” she said with a laugh.

Wendy Glader takes a peek out of the store to see where a firetruck turned after it rumbled down the street. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

During quiet times, Glader straightens inventory and listens to the police scanner behind the counter. She turns it on when she hears sirens.

Her 17-year-old terrier-Pomeranian mix, Kenya, ambles around the store, sniffing and tail-wagging the day away.

“There used to be lots and lots of these little grocery stores,” said Deede Westermann, executive director of the Spirit Valley Citizens Neighborhood Development Association. “But slowly they have nearly all gone away.”

The reasons are varied, she said. Some owners get old, retire and shut the stores down. In other cases, shoppers opt for the amenity-filled mall areas and larger grocers.

Neighborhood grocery stores used to be more than just corner stores. They were community gathering places, said Joe Perfetti, head of the Harrison Community Club. It’s where families gathered after Sunday church for coffee and rolls. It’s where old-time wheeling and dealing was perfected and laughter filled the aisles, he said. “But that’s all changed, now.”

Perhaps for good.

“People have to recognize the value of the small stores before they are all gone,” Westermann said. “In the case of neighborhood grocery stores, I don’t think that will happen.”

Neighborhood store owner Wendy Glader is reflected in the small corner mirror as she carries a box of paper products to the end of a narrow aisle for stocking. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Glader’s is the kind of place where Wendy is on a first-name basis with customers.

“Hi, Inga,” she said as the shy, willowy teen-ager came in. “What are you looking for?”

“Chocolate milk,” she said.

“Sorry, we’re out,” Glader said. “But we have that hot chocolate you like.”

The neighborhood grocery store probably wouldn’t be here today except for Glader’s quiet devotion. Mega-grocers moved into Duluth over the years and small, private neighborhood grocers have vanished by the dozens. Park Point’s Bay Side Market on Minnesota Avenue, the Fourth Street Market in Central Hillside and Romano’s Grocery downtown are among the last small groceries in Duluth.

But none is quite like Glader’s.

She is the only full-time employee and works seven days a week, with some fill-in help from her boyfriend. She hasn’t had a day off since July 4 this year, when she took her three children to Brainerd to see the Paul Bunyan statue. She can’t remember the last day off before that.

“Sometimes I don’t think I make any money,” she said. “But I pay all my bills and my kids are well dressed, so I really can’t complain.”

The store makes $400 on good days; top sellers are cigarettes and soft drinks. But Glader has given up on fresh meats and an extensive variety of vegetables and fruits. It’s tough to compete with the large grocery chains’ low prices, she said.

“I can’t blame customers for going there,” said Glader, who shops at the nearby SuperValu for fresh meats and other needs.

“Basically, they come here when they need an item or two. And I’m OK with that.”

An 80-year-old picture of Jesus hangs over some of the hair products Glader carries at her grocery store. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Glader’s offers one feature people won’t find at big-name grocers — a line of credit. She has about 30 customers who charge items onto an account and pay them off every month or two weeks.

A sign, next to the picture of Christ, says: “Your payday is my payday.”

Glader’s parents, Cliff and Jessie, bought the store 30 years ago for about $8,000 after diabetes forced Cliff out of his job as a Proctor bus driver. Jessie, a housekeeper at a nursing home, knew he couldn’t do it alone. She quit her job and they embarked on their retail adventure.

Glader bought out her brother and sister nearly seven years ago for $45,000 after her mother died and left it to the children. The other children didn’t want to run the store. But Glader couldn’t let the store, or the memories, go.

“That’s really why I still do it,” she said. “I don’t want to let it go. But with this economy, I can’t really see doing it forever.”

Glader has considered starting a child care in her Proctor home. The hours are better and she’d get to spend more time with her kids. But the ties to the store are strong.

Glader keeps going, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

“A lot of people think I live here,” Glader said. “But I have a house and a family. I’m not as into it as my dad and mom were. But I’m still here, still filling the shelves, still opening every day.”

Wendy Glader rips into a box from an early afternoon delivery so she can start stocking shelves. Her shelves may not always be full, like the larger store chains, but she tries to keep a good variety of daily necessities stocked. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Wendy Glader gives directions to a delivery driver trying to find his way back to the Interstate 35 after he completed his delivery to the tiny West Duluth grocery store. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

I can’t find any more references to the store in our archives, and – correct me if I’m wrong – the store is no longer there. So, can anyone provide more information about when it closed? If so, please post a comment.

Victory Chimes, 1986

There’s a story in Thursday’s News Tribune about the Victory Chimes, a tall ship that for a few months called Duluth home – before financial and logistical difficulties resulted in the ship being repossessed by the bank, auctioned off and eventually sold to a buyer who moved it out of town (the buyer was Domino’s Pizza, but we’ll get to that later on).

In any case, I thought it would be a good chance to take a look at some photos of the Victory Chimes’ stay in Duluth. We’ll start with this Oct. 21, 1986, article about Denfeld physics students’ trip aboard the vessel:

The Victory Chimes sets sail from its Duluth berth with its Denfeld physics class passengers on Oct. 20, 1986. (Photos by John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

Denfeld physics students steer new course on Victory Chimes

By Linda Hanson, News-Tribune & Herald

For most people, the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes brings to mind romantic visions of life at sea – not physics.

But for 100 Denfeld High School students, the 86-year-old ship was their physics classroom for two hours Monday.

"Physics is not just in a book," said Denfeld physics teacher Ed Felien. "Physics is in everything you do. We try to illustrate that whenever we can."

As part of their physics classwork, students learn how to navigate with a compass, said Polly Hanson, a student teacher who arranged the field trip. Hanson, 21, is a senior at the College of St. Scholastica.

For example, the students must learn how to calculate how wind and currents affect the course of a ship, Hanson said.

Hanson thought it would be good for students to see firsthand how navigation works.

"In class, we’re working on vectors – those are directions on a compass," said Tim Sisto, 17, a senior.

"If you’re off on your vectors, you’re lost," added Mike Vukonich, 17, a senior.

There were no formal lessons on the ship, but students were encouraged to ask the crew questions.

Debbie Shepard, 16, said she learned three nautical superstitions from a crew member.

"Never whistle on a ship. That’s because they used to do commands by whistles and it would be confusing if someone was whistling," she said. "Also, women are bad luck and they don’t belong on a ship. And never change the name of a ship."

Debbie said a crew member explained that the ship use to be called the Edwin and Maud, but the name was changed to the Victory Chimes after World War II.

The ship’s two auxiliary engines, which are used for raising the sails and anchors, were named Edwin and Maud because of the superstition, she said.

Crew member Carol Bresser steers the Victory Chimes through the harbor while answering the questions of physics students.

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Several students gathered in the captain’s quarters to hear a crew member explain the workings of the ship’s computerized navigational system called Loran C. The sailor explained how the system uses radio signals to determine the ship’s position.

"The signals form a hyperbola," he said.

"That sounds like calculus," one student moaned. "I hate calculus."

THis was the first trip on the Victory Chimes for most of the students, but it was the last outing of the season for the schooner and crew. The ship will spend the winter in the Minnesota Slip and will re-enter service next spring, said Capt. Sandy Clark.

While the ship made its final loop around the Duluth harbor in the balmy October air, not everyone’s mind was on physics. Some students visited with friends, while others talked about what it would be like to go for a long voyage on the Victory Chimes.

Danice Klimek, 15, leaned back on the rail and smiled, the sun glinting off her purple sunglasses.

"I’d love it," she said about going on a long voyage. "It’d be just me and nature."

Pat Smith, 17, thought a long trip would get old fast because you’d be cooped up with the same people for too long.

Danice said, "If I got riled up, I’d just go out and look at the stars. That always calms me down."

Denfeld juniors Wendy Whelihan, 17, Carolyn Flaim, 16, Jennifer Forstrom, 16, Terri Panyan, 16, and Dawn Sobczak, 16, drink soda and talk during their physics class cruise on the schooner Victory Chimes.

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Stepping back a bit, the Victory Chimes’ move to Duluth was discussed for some time before it actually happened. According to news accounts, architect Ted Rosenthal of Carlton first tried to buy and bring the ship here from Maine in 1976, but that effort fell through. Plans were revived in summer and fall 1985, with Rosenthal – joined by Duluthian Jerry Jubie, then president of First State Bank of Floodwood – bought the vessel for about $1 million.

The ship was battered by storms in early 1986 while still in Florida and on the East Coast. It finally arrived in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986, greeted by a crowd estimated at 2,000 people:

The Victory Chimes, accompanied by a welcoming flotilla, makes her way under the Aerial Lift Bridge on Aug. 29, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Crowds line the North Pier to watch the arrival of the Victory Chimes in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Things took a turn for the worse rather quickly. By December 1986, Jubie (not sure where Rosenthal went to – he’s not mentioned) told the News-Tribune & Herald that he was putting the Victory Chimes up for sale because the cities of Duluth and Superior had not provided enough support (city officials disputed that claim).

In April 1987, Norwest Bank foreclosed on a $650,000 mortgage on the schooner. It was the subject of a public auction in July 1987, at which the bank formally purchased the Victory Chimes. Tha bank moved the Victory Chimes to Maryland; with its masts taken down and strapped to its decks, the old schooner was towed out of Duluth for the last time on Sept. 22, 1987:

Towed by the Norfolk Rebel, the schooner Victory Chimes leaves Duluth on its way to the East Coast on Sept. 22, 1987. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)

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The Victory Chimes is towed out of the Duluth harbor. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune & Herald)

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In January 1988, Norwest Bank sold the boat to Domino’s Pizza Inc. for an undisclosed price. The owner of Domino’s, Tom Monaghan, planned to bring the boat to his resort on Drummond Island in northern Lake Huron, at the far eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The company refurbished the Victory Chimes and renamed it the Domino Effect, but that effort also ran into troubles. Efforts to dredge a harbor on Drummond Island to house the schooner drew environmental criticism that stalled the project. In addition, the schooner’s mast collapsed during repairs while on the East Coast, killing a crewman.

In October 1989, Domino’s announced it was putting the Domino Effect up for sale. At some point after that, the ship was brought back to Maine and renamed the Victory Chimes, and continues to offer trips along the coast – here’s the ship’s website.

The ship’s lasting legacy in Duluth is a stylized version of its silhouette, which was incorporated into a ubiquitous city logo still seen today, as shown in this News Tribune photo:

If memory serves correctly, the logo even appears on the facade of the I-35 tunnels east of downtown.

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So there, in a nutshell, is the story of the Victory Chimes in Duluth. Share your memories of the ship by posting a comment.

- Andrew Krueger