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January 16, 2014 8:12 am

Family-owned businesses key to small towns

Written by Tom Lawrence

One of the hallmarks of small towns is the family-owned businesses that provide goods, services and jobs.

They pay taxes, donate to causes and decorate their windows with the school colors when a big ballgame rolls around. For most communities, they help knit the fabric that makes a town survive and thrive.

We note this as we see a change in Powell’s business community, and report on an anniversary of another business.

Brad and Greg Kolb are selling the Food Basket at the end of this week. The sale will end a 68-year run for the Kolb family in the grocery business in Powell.

Their grandparents, Harold and Madge Kolb, operated Eastside Grocery in 1946, and their dad Bob Kolb owned the Food Basket until he died in 2010.

The Kolb brothers admitted it was a tough choice, but they said it was time for them to hang up their aprons and let someone else operate the store. The name will be changed to Mr. D’s Food Center, Powell, but the employees have been promised jobs if they want to stay.

The Kolbs have turned the business over to Joe and Bonnie Motherway of Lander and their son, Joe Motherway Jr., and daughter, Michelle Motherway.

The Motherways also grew up in the aisles of a store, since their family has been involved in the business for 50 years. Frank Dusl, who started Mr. D’s Super Store in Lander, was Bonnie’s dad, and at one point owned a chain of grocery stores in the state.

They have a sterling reputation, and understand how businesses operate in these environments. The name is changing, and we are sure there will be other evolutions and adaptions, but the store will continue to serve its patrons.

Our front-page story last week reported the news of the change, but we want to thank the Kolbs for their decades of service and involvement in the Powell community. Businesses come and go, but the grocery business that was started after World War II will continue into the 21st century, albeit with a new name.

We also welcome the Motherways to Powell, and wish them decades of success.

Two weeks ago, we noted Tribune Publisher Dave Bonner’s 50 years at the helm of the paper. Last week, we published a story on Doug Edgell, who has been cutting hair, giving shaves and delighting customers with his lively sense of humor for half a century.

Edgell opened Sportsman’s Barbershop in 1969 after moving here from his native Wisconsin. He fell in love with Powell and the outdoor-oriented lifestyle here, and built a business that has endured.

Edgell still works 30 hours a week and says he has no plans to hang up his clippers. He loves the work and the interaction with customers old and new.

His son TJ chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, and it seems the shop at 147 E. Second St. will be open for decades to come. That’s the way it is with a lot of family businesses.

It’s a part of small-town life that many of us admire and appreciate. We’re glad to see it continue, and hope to tell more such stories over the years.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link January 28, 2014 4:03 pm posted by John Clark

    Most shoppers want the lowest price period, and are not loyal to local owned businesses.

    So when big retailers move into an area the shoppers will purchase their goods there because of lower price. Also on-line shopping is popular because a purchaser has lots of choices, reasonable price (most of the time lower than local stores) and because of additional choices in goods delivery will receive their merchandise in a reasonable amount of time.

    I feel the online shopping is the most harmful to a town or city because the seller has no present in the area and does not pay taxes.

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