I’ve been shopping at Sunshine on east 10th ever since my daughters were young enough to still want a ride on the rocking horse machine inside every store entrance. “Daddy, let’s go to the store with the horsy.”
Back in the early 70’s, my cousin, Grouse, wrote a TV commercial for Sunshine featuring that kiddie ride. It opened with the William Tell overture (The Lone Ranger theme) and me in a booming voice saying, “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty hi yo Sunshine” all the while showing happy little kids aboard the mighty coin operated Sunshine steed. I don’t recall how successful that advertisement campaign turned out to be but it sure was clever.
I’ve lived on the East side of Sioux Falls ever since moving to town in 1969 and suppose the reason I started buying groceries at Sunshine was because of its proximity to my house. But even when other super markets started popping up, my loyalty only wavered occasionally.
Hy Vee likes to claim having a “helpful smile in every aisle” but the employees at Sunshine actually know me and the other regulars when we come through the door and seem to generally appreciate our business; no forced smiles. Plus, I know where everything is located in the store. And if there was ever some item I wanted that they didn’t carry, all I had to do was mention it to Brian or any of the managers and it would be on the shelf within a few days. When I asked, this Spring, if Sunshine would help us sell tickets for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert, the answer was “Sure, Doug, glad to help out.” No checking for an okay from corporate headquarters in another state..no asking for a cut..just a friendly “you bet” right on the spot.
I’m going to miss all of the people at Sunshine that I’ve gotten to know over the years and hope they’re not left out in the cold by this deal with HyVee which closes my store this month. I don’t like it for a lot of reasons but mostly because food shopping in a city this size shouldn’t be monopolized by just two operations, HyVee and Wal-Mart.
In fact..it isn’t. There are still a few family owned grocery stores in town that don’t get a lot of publicity but where, like Cheers, everyone knows your name. Andy’s at 18th and Cleveland is a neat little four aisle neighborhood market that obviously doesn’t have room to stock all those specialty items you find in a Sam’s Club but it’s run by nice people and carries most things you need and gets rave reviews for the freshness and quality of it’s meats. Omar’s way up on the North Phillips hill has been around for ages. It, too, stocks most of the basic food items and has a reputation for really good meat and getting robbed a lot.
Franklin Food Market on third and Cliff is the largest of the independents. It’s been owned and operated by the Haggar family since 1949. You’ve got to be doing something right to stay in business for 61 years and customers say it’s the excellent meat department and old fashioned friendly atmosphere.
I realize, of course, that when family budgets are tight, it’s hard to resist the deals offered by the super dooper mega plex food stores with their outdoor tents full of bargain soda and plants or carnival rides set up on the parking lot but it’s still going to be a sad day when that Sunshine horsy gallops off into the sunset.