Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Hastings: The comfortable familiarity of an old-fashioned grocery store November 1, 2012

Reissner’s Meats & Grocery in historic downtown Hastings, Minnesota.

YOU KNOW HOW SOMETIMES, when you step into a place, you feel like you’ve been there before, but you haven’t.

That would be Reissner’s Meats and Grocery in historic downtown Hastings.

Third-generation owner Dick Reissner.

Entering this narrow two-aisle store with a mustachioed, gray-haired shopkeeper in a butcher’s apron leaning on the front counter, I experienced a sense of familiarity tracing back to my childhood. Reissner’s reminds me of the corner grocery in my hometown of Vesta where I purchased my favorite Tootsie Pop suckers, Bazooka bubble gum and yellow packs of Juicy Fruit gum from the candy counter on many a trip to town with Mom.

Honestly, I cannot remember much else about Rasmussen’s Grocery except the candy and the wood floors and the big old screen door that banged shut behind me.

Aisle one with the candy counter to the left.

Reissner’s in Hastings possesses that same nostalgic feel, even a vintage look in the red-and-white tile floors, the mishmash of merchandise, the hulking and energy-sucking open cooler that holds pop, and the price stickers adhered to canned foods and more.

Dick Reissner reads at the front counter while I explore his store.

Richard (Dick) Otto Reissner was preoccupied with reading when I walked in on a recent Saturday afternoon and didn’t seem to want to be bothered. So I didn’t query him with the list of questions formulating in my mind as I perused the aisles.

Vintage photos which clued me in as to the history of this place.

Therefore I have no stories to share with you about this third-generation family business. Only photos.

The exterior sign, which dates the business to 1902.

I totally forgot to search for the lefse or ask about  Grandma Ruth.

The vintage toys, etc., are not for sale.

An old, old cooler…

How often do you see price stickers on food anymore?

I have no clue, none, why there’s a saddle, right, in the grocery store.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “In Hastings: The comfortable familiarity of an old-fashioned grocery store”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Brings back such good memories of the “corner store” in our East Side St. Paul neighborhood. Cookies sold in clear glass jars with ‘silver’/chrome covers–buy 1 or a dozen (no packages back then!) and penny candy that truly was a penny!! Sodas (Coke) dispensed in top loaded coolers like that one….sigh!

  2. Cheryl Schrader (Raddatz) Says:

    I too have wonderful memories of Rasmussen’s Grocery Store on the corner. We used to wait there for our parents to pick us up after Sunday School when our aunt was not available. Otherwise we would walk to her house up on the hill. I too remember the wood floors and candy counter. However, in the back of the store, he bought eggs from the farmers, one of which was my family. My aunt would candle the eggs (holding them up to a light to make sure they were not starting to grow little chickens) One time when I was five, my sister was four, my mother was in the hospital with sister number 3. Being the good sisters (daughters) we were we washed the eggs. However, it was December and cold. Our water kept cooling off so we would heat it up from time to time on the stove, complete with eggs. Our aunt after finding all kinds of lumps that were of no particular shape broke one open to find the eggs half cooked. That was the end of our heating the water with the eggs included. My mother also took over that duty for a few years.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This is a great story about Rasmussen’s Grocery Store in Vesta. Thank you so much for sharing this gem. I wish I remembered more about the store…

  3. Great Post & Photos! Brings back memories for me of growing up in a rural town in the Midwest – the grocery store was also the meat market. Have a Great Day:)

  4. Jackie Says:

    The look on his face…. “yah lady, whaddo you want”, Ha Brought back memories for me as well, I grew up in the country 5 miles south of Rochester, We had a little store about a mile from our house, I can still imagine what it looked like, especially the penny gumball machine…remember those?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Of course, I remember penny gumball machines. But my favorite gums were Bazooka bubblegum or Juicy Fruit.

      You pretty much pegged the storekeeper’s reaction to me. He wasn’t in the best of moods on the day I walked into his shop.

  5. Sartenada Says:

    Wonderful post. I love especially close-ups which complete general view from this lovely store.

  6. […] of this, my mother bought the corner grocery store one day, and my life changed […]

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