Red Owl, Family History, and Company Relationships


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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