Red Owl, Family History, and Company Relationships

Red Owl, Family History, and Company Relationships

by Kerry Scott on 27 October 2010

logo

This post originally appeared on 21 October 2009.

My older kid wants me to dress up for Halloween.

Specifically, she wants me to wear what she calls the “owl shirt.” It’s a red grocery clerk’s smock with the logo of the Red Owl Food Stores on one side, and a Red Owl name tag on the other. I wear it when we play grocery store.

Red Owl was a grocery store chain in the upper Midwest. My grandma worked in the advertising department at their corporate headquarters in Hopkins, Minnesota for nearly 30 years. When I was little, we got to visit her at work a couple of times, which my five-year-old self thought was the coolest thing ever. That big red owl’s face was intimately associated with my grandma in my mind, and although they’ve been out of business for nearly 30 years now, you can still find their stuff in antique stores and on eBay (and there’s a lock of hair from my first haircut in my baby book…in a Red Owl envelope). You don’t even want to know what I’ve spent on various Red Owl items…signs, clocks, key chains, spice tins, rubber stamps, and more. I even have Red Owl metal inventory control tags on the file cabinets in my office. They’re really cool.

We also have a bunch of stuff from my husband’s great-grandfather’s lumberyard in Glenbeulah, Wisconsin. I have an apron, a fly swatter, and a pair of tongs with “W.D. Scott Company” etched in the side. The lumberyard is long gone, but we’ve still got a lot of stuff to show our kids when we tell them about their great-great-grandpa and his history in their daddy’s hometown.

Interestingly, although I’ve worked for a large number of companies and received lots of logo gear over the years, I’m not particularly attached to any of it. I still have the desktop aircraft models from my airline job, but that’s it. I’m way more into the stuff from companies that figure into my family history than my own.

So I’m curious. Do you keep the logowear from the jobs you’ve had? From companies your family has had a relationship with? Do any particular signs or logos trigger an emotional reaction for you?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

JL October 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I have a single ratty envelope with the company logo from my father’s paint and wallpaper business. Postmarked December 18, 1951. It’s preserved in an archival-quality page protector.

I get all emotional wondering why I kept it. I guess that’s why.

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Jill October 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

One of my first jobs was at Archway cookies – every year they gave every one a charm for the Archway charm bracelet. I still have mine – it has a box of cookies, a single cookie, and the emblem.

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Susan Tiner October 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm

During the years I worked at Adobe they gave the engineering staff loads of T-Shirts with various Adobe product and logo wear. I loved them. But no, I didn’t keep them. They never had actual sentimental value. They were just cool, fun clothes. Like you, I would probably be more attached to logo stuff with more of a personal association. However, I can’t think of a single brand or logo I feel this way about. On the other hand, if I could get some of the Friendly Ice Cream cups and their original gray waitress uniforms I wore in the 1970s that would pique my interest. I would love to have their scoopers too.

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Kerry Scott October 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm

You should set up a search on eBay. I bet you’d find them sooner or later. That’s where I got all of my cool Red Owl stuff.

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Dave November 2, 2010 at 8:59 am

Funny enough…I rarely keep logowear from old jobs. I like to wear logowear from OTHER people’s jobs though :) — I think it’s sort of cool/weirdly funny to have a Best Buy or Staples shirt for some reason.

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Phil Bolton November 3, 2010 at 6:39 am

Hi kerry –

Stumbled on your blog whilst looking for information on dealing with grief over losing a job. You are a great writer and have a sparkling presence. Keep it up!

Phil

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Dan January 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

My Parents met at 39th & Nicollet(Minneapolis) Red Owl in about 1961

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Lynn July 25, 2011 at 7:10 am

Would you be interested in selling a large Red Owl sign? I am looking for one – long story – and haven’t had much luck.

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Kerry Scott July 25, 2011 at 9:51 am

Lynn—unfortunately, I don’t think I could stand to part with the sign I have. I would suggest setting up one of those searches on eBay where it emails you with new results, though. That’s where I’ve bought nearly all of my Red Owl stuff, but it’s hit-or-miss so you have to check regularly.

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Gina Cruz July 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm

My Uncle Fred Molzahn was a artist for Red Owl and we have some of his art.Unfortuneatly we have no Red Owl art.He was very talented and we do have some of his private collection. I was curious if you would know what art that could be associated with Fred or how we could find out.It would be nice if we could put him together with the Red Owl logo.Any help would be appreciated.
Thank You
Gina Cruz.

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Dan July 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Red Owl was bought up-acquired by super Value (still around ). You could try contacting there corp offices I suppose. They are located in Eden Prairie,MN
I did find this (read it) & it states there r 2 still under Red Owl name – maybe try them too.

http://www.bismarckcafe.com/blogs/red-owl-grocery-store

My Parents met at a Red Owl in Minneapolis
Dan

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Jason February 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I am fascinated by the nostalgic memories invoked by brands like Red Owl. Inspired by this, I decided to produce a line of tshirts and hats featuring the iconic “fanciful” head from Red Owl. I hear from many people how they buy and wear the products as a nod to fond past times when they shopped or worked in a Red Owl grocery store. The full line of licensed apparel in vintage styles is at http://www.zazzle.com/towle008

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Pat March 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

My aunt worked for Red Owl forever, in their food producation area. When I was in high schoool, I worked at Super Valu headquarters, which was right across from Red Owl’s in Hopkins, MN. I miss seeing those big Red Owls around the area.

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