Friday, March 13, 2009

We'll Miss the Swiss

I was raised in the central Minnesota town of Little Falls. Two local businesses were Simonet's Funeral Home and Simonet's Furniture store. When we moved to Stillwater we also had a Simonet's Funeral Home and Simonet's Furniture. The families were related distantly. The Simonets emigrated from Switzerland in the mid-1800's. Years ago the furniture makers made the caskets and the two businesses were a natural pairing.
Simonet's Furniture in Stillwater was a main street fixture for years. A decade or so ago they moved up the hill into a new building. The same family has owned and managed the store for five generations. This week my good friend Mary, whose great-grandfather started the business in 1864 told me they were going out of business. Bad economic times have taken their toll.

In the 80's the store made news by breaking a record for the longest run of an employee in the same job. A local woman became their bookkeeper when she was about 16 yrs old. She stayed in her job until she was around 90, if memory serves me correctly. The last years she used a walker to accomodate an aging body. Her mind stayed as sharp as ever. The owner of the store gave her a ride to work each morning. What nice small town values, a faithful employee and accomodating employer. When she retired, they probably computerized their records.
You can't read the small print on the sign on the back of the truck, but it says "we retired the horses in 1913." Now we are going to retire the store in 2009. We will miss the good service from a local store where you could buy a piece of furniture in the morning and have it delivered free the same afternoon.

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