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For over 62 years, the Breckenridge Store has played an intregal role in the lives of those living in Tingley and the surrounding area. It was founded on May 23, 1921 when William Shafer "Bill" BRECKENRIDGE opened a grocery store in a small room located approximately a half a block from its present location. On May 1st of 1923, Bill relocated his stock of merchandise to the site where it has stood ever since. At the time, there were three grocery stores in Tingley.

When the store was relocated, a fresh meat counter with a walk-in refrigerator was install. O. W. ROUCH, Lola BRECKENRIDGE's father, operated Tingley's icehouse and provided ice which was placed in the top of the refrigerator. Later, it was converted to electricity and continued to serve the store, housing meat and vegetables.

In the 1923-1928 store ledger, it was noted that beef and hogs were purchased for eight-cents a pound from:


Included was a light bill for $2.39.

Dry goods and a shoe department was added in 1923. In 1930, a stock of hardware was purchased from Day CARTER and place in the store. It was expanded to include appliances, stoves, and refrigerators. At one time, the store sold harness and tarps. Shoes were repaired in the store, too, making it a "One Stop Store."

During its history, the store has been called several names - from Brairdale to I.G.A. Associated Grocery and later the Breckenridge Store.

Lola assisted in the store while raising their family of five children: Reba (BRECKENRIDGE) ERICKSON, Lois (BRECKENRIDGE) JENSEN, Jean (BRECKENRIDGE) SKARDA, Dean "Bud" and Billy BRECKENRIDGE. While Bud and Billy served their country during World War II, the girls helped out in the store along with fourteen other family members and several of the grandchildren. Frances Hannah OVERHOLTZER was a long-term employee of over 38 years.

Prior to 1946, customers would hand their orders to the clerks who in turn filled their requests. In 1946, self-service was introduced. The store also bought and candled eggs.

During World War II, the store was opened on Saturday nights until one or two in the morning. At the time, Saturdays were traditional 'going to town' days for farm families so they could sell their cream and eggs and in return purchase items they needed on the farm.

The store also provided delivery service on each Friday.

Bud and Billy assumed the operation of the store when they returned from active duty in World War II. They continued to operate the store for the next twenty years. In 1960, Billy and his wife Minnie took over the store with employees Pearl GROUT and Ed SHERWOOD.

Minnie & Billy filling grocery order
for delivery to Shannon City, 1977

"The thing I enjoy the most is being around the people," said Billy Breckenridge, 60, owner of Breckenridge Grocery and Hardware in Tingley. "And I enjoy trying to help the small town keep its head above water," he said, explaining that any business in the small town economy is important.

Another thing BRECKENRIDGE and other grocers have in common is a minor dislike.

"The thing I like least about the business is the hours and not being able to get away. I've always thought I'd like to be in a business where I could take Saturdays off," BRECKENRIDGE said. But he and his wife, Minnie, own a house in Sun Valley, Ellston, a lakeside development. Now, the lake home is a kind of weekend retreat as well as permanent home. BRECKENRIDGE enjoys it because he likes to fish and golf.

Should he ever get out of the business, BRECKENRIDGE said he thinks the right kind of person could make a decent living in Tingley from a grocery store. But he questions the availability of persons who would want to make such a commitment. If the store was closed, "it could be awfully hard on the town."

Because small stores don't get the discounts for large quantity purchases like supermarkets, some of his prices are higher, BRECKENRIDGE said; however, his store tries to make up for that with extra service. Also, he and his help try to remember the customers by name, something people like. he tries to keep the store extra-clean. And they know the customer's habits and the products they usee.

"We are really pleased withthe faithfulness of the customers over the years. Some of them have been doing business since we started here 66 years ago," BRECKENRIDGE said.

The business has changed over the years, he said. For one thing, his store sells products now that couldn't be given away years ago. There is bottled water, potting soil and more convenience foods than ever before.

Another difference is in dollar and cents. The cost of BRECKENRIDGE'S current inventory of cigarettes is greater than the expense of his father's store's entire inventory.

BRECKENRIDGE said he appreciates all the hard work from his wife Minne and retired clerk Frances Hannah OVERHOLTZER in running the store. OVERHOLTZER worked in the store about 39 years, and is known by many in the area.

BRECKENRIDGE has about 43 years of experience in the grocery business.

Billy BRECKENRIDGE, owner of BRECKENRIDGE Grocery & Hardware Store in Tingley, stands near two items that have been in the store nearly since it opened at its current site in 1923. The plaster bull adorns the meat counter and the wooden cooler in back was converted from an ice box.

Photo by Randy Porter, CNA

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 10, 1962

Wm. S. BRECKENRIDGE of Tingley announced the sale of the Wm. S. BRECKENRIDGE Store to his sons, Dean R. and Billy R. BRECKENRIDGE, effective April 30. The new owners have been associated with their father in the general merchandising business for 16 years. Mr. BRECKENRIDGE retires after operating the business for 41 years.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
May, 1991

Tingley store integral part of community

Breckenridges Celebrate 70 Years

An integral part of Tingley and the surrounding area for the last 70 years is the "BRECKENRIDGE Store" currently owned and opearted by Billy and Minnie BRECKENRIDGE.

Billy and Minnie and family and his brother, Dean "Bud" BRECKENRIDGE of Tingley, and sisters, Lois JENSEN of Davenport, Reb ERICKSON of Story City and Jean SKARDA of Tingley, and their families will be gathering in Tingley at an open house from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at the BRECKENRIDGE Store.

They will be celebrating with their many friends and customers, 70 years existence of the "country store" their father, the late William S. BRECKENRIDGE founded in 1921 which, through the years, has offered an abundance of friendliness and community service along with its wares.

Like Billy and Minnie, many persons have always lived in the Tingley community and relationships run deep.

Billy made a vow that when he became 65 years old in November, 1991, that he would retire from the very active life he has had for 50 years working in the BRECKENRIDGE Store. (That much tenure is possible because Billy started in high school.)

He and Minnie look forward to more free time to enjoy their lake home at Sun Valley, to play golf and to travel. With the store always having been a family business, with Bill and Billy being the only two owners, it has been hard to ever "get away."

True to his word Billy has advertised the store for sale. But, it is not without mixed feelings. The store has meant a lot to him and his wife, and they would like to think it has meant a great deal to the community as well.

Statewide notice of this latter fact became evident when Billy was honored Wednesday, May 15, at a luncheon at the Convention Center in Des Moines by Iowa Governor Terry BRANSTAD.

Corporate award for service

Nominated by the local Area Agency on Aging group, BRECKENRIDGE received a corporate award for service given to him for his contribution as a Tingley businessman.

When his father, Bill, started the store in 1921 some told him that "it won't last a year." Part of the basis for this was there were two other grocery stores in Tingley at the time.

The elder BRECKENRIDGE'S store survived and the other stores didn't!

Billy feels now that he isn't able to compete with supermarkets, pricewise, so he has tried to offer a personal, friendly touch. He strives to determine what the customers want and then secures it for them.

One example of this is that BRECKENRIDGE Store is one of only a few grocery stores which maintains a delivery service. There is less call for this than there used to be, Billy says, Also the store owners have allowed a limited amount of charges.

Store opens in 1921

On May 23, 1921, William Shafer "Bill" BRECKENRIDGE opened a grocery store in a small room approximately one-half block from the present location. Two years later, May 1, 1923, the stock of merchandise was moved to the now occupied site.

Upon relocation, a fresh meat department, with walk-in refrigerator, was added to the store. O. W. ROUSH (father of Bill's wife Lola), who operated an icehouse in Tingly, furnished ice for the top of the refrigerator. Later, the cooling appliance was converted to electricity and was still being used for meats and vegetables in 1983.

Dry goods and footware also were added in 1923.

Tingley Centennial book, Pp. 192-93.
PORTER, Randy. "Breckenridge's Fills Big Role in Tingley" Creston News Advertiser May, 1991.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2010

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