GOODBYE TO THE 'G'
It's A Sign Of The Times: Reynolds' Makeover Continues At Former Gordon's
BY SAMAR FAY, COURIER EDITOR
Published: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
The remodeling of what was started as Gordon’s Foods in 1961 is nearly complete. F.T. Reynolds Co., a silent partner in the beginning, changed the name in January, and the tall signature sign for the Big G Shopping Center was redone last week.
A three-man crew from Billings used high-rise equipment to take down two of the three “G” designs from the 55-foot tower on Wednesday, replacing them with two rectangular “Reynolds” signs. For the present at least, the third “G” still faces Eugene’s Pizza. The distinctive Jetsons-style three-legged support will remain, a ‘60s landmark that many people enjoy in the downtown landscape. The steel interior of the legs is partially exposed while the white cladding is being replaced.
Inside the store, the direction of the aisles has been changed and all the refrigerator units are new. The product placement is complete, so customers can begin to reorient themselves.
The Big G Shopping Center opened with great fanfare in April 1961. The 11,000-square-foot building contained Gordon’s Foods, the Fair Store and Western Auto. Leonard Bollinger was president of the company and his brother Gordon, the namesake of the store, was treasurer. Joe Chouinard was vice president, Paul Hoffman was secretary and Gordon Stebbleton was a director.
In a double-page advertisement in The Courier, the store touted its automatic doors and checkstands, the air conditioning and piped-in music. There were free gifts, 50 food baskets, radios and housewares. They gave away free fudge samples and cotton candy, and to every customer, one S&H Green Stamp book with a page of 30 stamps.
Gordon Bollinger was pictured accepting a bouquet of roses and congratulations from the Welcome Wagon.
Over the years, the other stores left and the grocery expanded into the whole space.
Frank Reynolds came from Iowa with his mother and lots of brothers and sisters to homestead in 1909. He founded the original grocery store in Glendive in 1925. It has since grown to a five-store chain. His son, Jack Reynolds, was the president of the company when Gordon’s opened and owned a minority interest in the Glasgow store. The company bought the rest in 1988 when Leonard Bollinger retired. One of Jack Reynolds’ sons, John Reynolds, is now the head of the company.
In Glasgow, the faces have remained remarkably the same. Joe Chouinard’s son Neil was 5 when the store opened; Neil started working at Gordon’s in about 1977 and is still behind the meat counter. Jerry Tade started at age 15 and recently retired after 42 years. His replacement as manager, Terry Colbrese, began at Reynolds, went to IGA, and returned to Reynolds. He has been in the grocery business since 1976.
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