You Were My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 10:16 am
By: Doug Lund
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sunshine foodsI’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 sunshine horsecommercial 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 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 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-Market-History-10Franklin 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.


  1. Donn says:

    I couldn’t agree more Doug. The east 10th store is where we do all of our shopping also, even though we are 2 blocks from Hyvee. Don’t know where we will go now. Thank you Sunshine staff for your smiles and friendliness.

  2. John Barney says:

    Amen to that Doug.

  3. Lynne says:

    My son will also miss riding that horse for free. He will miss the kid club that they have at the store and the free birthday cake they give to you on your birthday. The sunshine downtown is too far away for me. Guess I will have to do more of my shopping at Franklin.

  4. Brenda says:

    I was a fan of Sunshine before I even shopped for my own groceries. The McConnell twins both started as sackers at the old Sunshine on 10th street and were two of my best friends…RIP Jim. Miss the manager downtown who was killed in a fire a few years back too….RIP Mr. David. Sunshine is also the store in my town of Hartford so I still give the few funds I make to them! I also find the buyout to sad for words. <> I am to dang young to have all the good old haunts leaving my life. From Gene’s gas station, Lollipop Park, EastPark Drive Inn, The old KEG, Walt and Mary’s, Frosty Treat, now Sunshine…10th Street is no more. While you are right about the small places that do exist (Omar’s is owned by my friends (Tom and Karen) brother and has the best selection of fresh steak around, and I do shop Franklin Food Mart when in Sioux Falls because their prices are comparable) it is the rich getting richer and bigger. Unless you have been a “small guy” that hasn’t made it in the business world it’s probably hard to understand how important it is to think about where you are going to be spending your money.

  5. grouse says:

    I’m surprised you remembered that spot. After the William Tell Overture played, we ended the spot with you doing a Tonto imitation. “That right, Kemo Sabay. Penny still take ‘em you long way at Sunshine”. Matt was the kid riding the horse. He was just a little over two years old then, and already a seasoned t.v. commercial actor. He would have been 38 this year. I won an Addy for that commercial and a couple of other Sunshine spots from the South Dakota Advertising Federation. I think you did the audio for those too. That commercial and others are in my garage on two-inch reel to reel video tape. Of course, to my knowledge, there no longer any functioning reel to reel video machines still functioning in the U.S. It was shot on 16MM film. Good luck finding a projector for that. Maybe if I tried a country ending with the suffix “stan”.
    Since we moved back, we shopped the Sunshine on 57th quite a bit. If we’re lucky, the store in Tea will still operate. Before we’re too hard on Hy-Vee, one of the great things about moving back to SD from Missourah was having Hy-Vee grocery stores. Dierberg’s and Kroger’s and other large chains in that neck of the woods aren’t even in the same league.

  6. prairierose says:

    So glad you still have a few ‘mom & pop’ stores to go to. Yankton has only Hy-Vee and WalMart. Can remember the days when competition ran high, carry out was usual, each store had its own personality and the customer was appreciated.

  7. Derek says:

    My first job was as a grocery bagger at the Sunshine Foods on E. 10th street. Every time I walk through the doors of that establishment I get hit by a flood of memories. Even though it has received a number of updates over the past 15 years, it’s like a time capsule. I will miss that.

  8. Lisa says:

    I remember that commercial!! I must have been about 8 when it aired. I also remember trying to cajole a penny out of Mom every time we went to Sunshine when it was at East 10th & Cleveland, across from the fancy Hinky Dinky. I don’t think it was the money so much as waiting for the horse to run its course. Those were the days … horsey rides and a free sucker at the register on the way out.

    I also remember many of the businesses on Brenda’s list. Lollipop Park! I loved that train and the little ferris wheel. Would love to see pictures if anyone has any. The Drive In where Kmart on East 10th is now …. paper grocery bags full of popcorn, jammies and the family. Walt & Mary’s after church on Sundays for special occasions. Didn’t Walt hold all the babies while the parents went through the line? Oh, and Frosty Treat .. yum!

    Add to that list … Hilltop Drug and the old “Recreation” site just east of where Andy’s still stands. The east side and Hilltop was a great place to grow up.

  9. Doug Lund says:

    Lisa..I’ve been meaning to write a blog about how the east side has changed over the years since my family has lived here. You have inspired me to get out the list of things our kids remember.
    If anyone out there has pictures of some of those east side businesses you mentioned..especially Lollypop Park, Eastpark Drive-in or Gene’s gas station at 10th and Sycamore..I’d love it if you scanned them and sent them to

  10. Doug, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog on the Sunshine Food Stores and would like to personally thank you for mentioning the independent businesses that are still a vital part of our community. The loyalty you have shown towards Sunshine is the same loyalty our customers have demonstrated through the 61 years we have been in business. It is that continued loyalty that will allow the independent business to continue. Thank you.

  11. Suzan says:

    So many great memories from this story and comments! The East Side of Sioux Falls was a pretty nice place to grow up. Now it has grown so I don’t recognize parts of it anymore. Still nice to go home, though. Looking forward to your blog on the East Side!

  12. Shawn says:

    My 3 year old daughter LOVES riding the Sunshine horse. We live in Harrisburg and frequent the store on 57th. We were at my Aunt’s in Hilltop the other day and went to the store on 10th since everything was 25% off. The horse was already gone. You would think they cancelled Christmas from my daughter’s reaction. Even a 3 year old has fond Sunshine memories. The stores will be missed!

  13. Bonne K says:

    Tho I do shop at Hy Vee mostly for their sales and wide selection, I am much closer to my Sunshine. Very sad to see it go and I do agree that their staff is friendlier. We’ve gotten to know a handful of the employees there but I can’t say that a single Hy Vee employee even knows us, as often as we’re there. My son loves the drawing contests at Sunshine, the free kids snack (which is usually fruit but he loves it) every time we go in, and the kids birthday club. I hate the fact that Sioux Falls has been over-run by Wal-Mart and now Hy Vee. Sad that the old stores are essentially being closed because of it and the economy. Sunshine will be missed and disappointed that yet another local business is here one minute.. and history the next.

  14. Ole says:

    I have been a loyal sunshine shopper for 50 years. 50 years! That goes back to when I was 9 yrs old. At first I thought Sunshine sold us out but now am seeing the light of day that HyVee just stomped on Sunshine. A helpful smile in every aisle? I think not. HyVee doesnt know, care and barely looks at their shoppers. Sunshine was the very heart of Sioux Falls. I guess growth of our town is good but this hurts. Back in 1975 I shopped at 14th & 2nd because I lived closeby. Then I moved out by the E 10th store and made it my favorite. Well guess what… 14th & 2nd, I’m coming back home!

  15. Darrell from Kansas City says:

    We lived in Spencer from Aug 1974 to July 1976, then Madison from 1976-1981. Sunshine stores and Lewis Drug were favorite memories.

    I believe it was a Sunshine store where I first ever walked through an “air curtain” entrance. I presume that blast of wind was as useful for keeping out flies and mosquitoes in the summer, as it was for keeping out the cold of the Dakota winters.

    Does anyone recall an indoor family amusement place called “Granny’s?” It was in a converted food store. One could easily identify where the meat counter had been, and other normal food store features. Granny’s (Can’t even recall if it was in Sioux Falls or Mitchell) had many video games and mini golf, as well as an ice cream parlour. That was a very creative re-use of a retail space.

  16. Jodi says:

    I miss Sioux Falls and Sunshine. The old Sunshine at 10th & Cleveland was my first job, and I late worked at the newer one east on 10th.

    Darrell, Granny’s was one of the names for the arcade on Minnesota Ave. it was late called Picadilly Circus. I think it had another name at one point.

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