My grandfather, Bob Fey, spent his entire professional career working at the same place — the sweet and eponymous Fey’s Supermarket.
Located on the corner of Powers and Borden street in Cincinnati (until a state highway rolled through, the government claimed imminent domain and the store moved across the street) Fey’s Supermarket served as a general store, a social hub and a neighborhood institution for 50 years.
I remember vividly my grandpa’s last day of work, though it happened without forethought when I was 11-years old. That day, we were all in town for my great-grandma’s funeral and my grandpa arrived late to a family dinner. Though he was sparse with the details at the time, it turned out that he had been robbed at gunpoint as he was transferring the days’ deposit.
Told to get down on the ground, Grandpa had the presence of mind to lay on the bag of money he was carrying, and thus thwarted the thief’s plans.
The incident, together with my grandma’s declining health, convinced him to sell the store around which he and his family had built so many happy memories.
Throughout his childhood, Grandpa and his brother Irv lived in the back of the store with his dad Amand and his mom Estelle, who ran things out front. When Estelle’s brother Edward died, the Feys hired his wife Meg, who lived up the street, to work in the store.
Grandpa worked as a butcher and he enjoyed the rhythm of life in a general store. Most patrons stopped by daily to pick up their dinner items and chat about the days news. Grandpa worked hard, came home every evening, and sat down to dinner at 6:15.
On Wednesdays, he went down to the basement and hand drew the weekly circular.
On Sundays after church Grandpa took my mom and her sister Doris to the store, where they were allowed to take brown paper bags and fill them with cookies and candy. Grandpa also sliced them hunks of cheese and minced ham.
I’ve been thinking about lifestyles lately, and the way they evolve. It’s certainly a lot easier to shop online and I’m sure drive-up grocery services have been a godsend for busy families.
But, there was also something special about neighborhood stores and the kindness and camaraderie they offered their patrons.
You won’t find Fey’s Supermarket in Cincinnati anymore, but you could find a different local store — maybe one that sells crafts, clothing, local produce or art.
Pop by every now and then and make a purchase, maybe stick around for a chat.
Convenience is nice, but we need community too and here’s to Bob Fey and all of the entrepreneurs who worked so hard to provide us with both.