Corner stores with stories



Duff’s, as shown in this 1934 ad, filled a niche at when not everyone had freezers at home.

Those of us who have been around long enough to remember them had our own neighborhood stop.

I went to 4J’s Dairy, Marty’s Mini Mart and Boys Market. It seems everyone has their own little market they frequented. Some I’ve heard about are Gardners, Beavers, Demotts, and Rohns.

At 4J’s was a drive-up window, something I would really appreciate at this point in my life. There was also a lovely cow perched on the roof.

At one point the cow and the elk from the Elks Club roof were seriously involved in a practical joke that involved the elk ending up on the dairy roof and the cow on the Elks building. Not naming any names though.

Marty’s was more of a later generation corner store. Kitty-corner from Green Park Elementary School, kids congregated there to play Mario Bros., drink pop and eat candy. I remember both of these stores sold cigarettes for a dime, but I never saw any kids buy one.

Boys Market is more of a distant memory. I believe it went out of business in about 1980. Located on the corner of Alder Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Boys Market was known for its meat selection.

My uncle, Paul Mobley, had my cousins and me convinced only boys were allowed inside, so we rarely ventured in.

My dad, Greg, speaks of Duffs Dairy, which was closer to his side of town. Duffs was revolutionary in having a cold-storage area where people could rent space to store their frozen goods.

Duffs was owned by the Duff family and Thelma Duff Allred kept it open every day, even holidays, a service unheard of in those days.

Now we have a enormous supermarkets where we are treated to pristine surroundings and endless selection, 24-7.

I prefer Super-One for my basics, Andy’s for produce, downtown Safeway for its location, and Plaza Safeway for its esthetic.

But, like corner grocery stores, I mainly just visit the store nearest to my house — and I’m thankful we have such good ones still.

Sara Van Donge is a Walla Walla native and middle school dual language teacher. She can be reached at


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