Neighbors: Even though it was prone to flooding, Fargo’s old Red Owl store made some lasting memories

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

A woman asked Neighbors’ readers a while ago about a grocery store that was east of the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, in the early ‘50s. She couldn’t remember whether it was a Red Owl or a Piggly Wiggly.

Several of you responded that it was a Red Owl.

Bruce Anderson, St. Cloud, Minn., wrote that his brother, Newell Anderson, managed that store for a time. He also has a photo which shows, Bruce wrote, “the store, which was downstream from the boat, was subject to flooding when Island Park was under water.”

Mike “Dino” Peterson, Las Vegas, says that this store may have been the original Red Owl in Fargo.

“It was at the northeast corner of Broadway and First Avenue South,” Dino writes. “I remember Moody’s being next to it.


“Behind Red Owl, to the east, was the Island Park Garage.

“My dad worked and retired from Red Owl. In the ‘50s, I was a box boy/carry-out for three different Red Owl stores.”

A woman who notified Neighbors about this store and didn’t identify herself said she shopped at this store in 1951.

Both Kathy Elstad, Fargo, and V.J. Barker, Moorhead, also say it was a Red Owl.

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Gary Meyer, Fargo, says the site of this Red Owl store now is the Bank of the West parking ramp.

As Bruce Anderson notes above, Gary says “I remember the floodwaters from Island Park would creep up the street at the foot of Broadway and sometimes flood the store.”

Speaking of Bruce, he also writes that Neighbors columns about Fargo’s small grocers in the past, of which there have been several, “bring back fond memories of a time when folks walked to the grocery store. Who had two cars? Or even one?


“Families bought what they needed, not for weeks as they now might at Costco or Sam’s Club. “Part of that, of course, was that in the 1940s, many people still had ice boxes in their homes, not suitable for keeping food a long time.

“And then the iceman cometh to deliver ice to homes. It was so refreshing to grab ice chips from the back of the truck on a hot summer day.

“I mark the beginning of the end for the small grocers in Fargo when the National Tea store opened on Main Avenue just west of University Drive,” Bruce says. “It was a huge store with a huge parking lot. And eventually people had refrigerators and freezers to store the week’s worth or more of food purchased at one time.”

Neighbors will carry more stories about the Red Owl store in coming weeks.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

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