By Barbara Meyer Bistodeau
From time to time I have written about the different markets in Camden such as the two Blomquist Markets and Paul Johnson’s Meat Market. Not even thinking about the fact that there was a market in my own family, belonging to my father-in-law.
I never mentioned it before because it wasn’t quite in Camden, but still in North Minneapolis. It was located on West Broadway at about Irving. Here is how this store came about: Years ago a young woman by the name of Susan Edith Gaudel moved to Minneapolis from Glencoe, Minnesota with the idea of becoming a nurse. The more she thought about it, the more she decided it was not the career for her. So she had to get a job and found one at a combination peanut and candy factory. It so happened that Leon Winfred Bistodeau, called Leo, was working there too. This was May of 1903, and between the peanuts and the candy, romance blossomed, and the following November they were married.
In 1905 Leo’s job was delivering candy to confectionary stores with a horse and enclosed cart. Then in 1906, Leo purchased his own store, which was both a candy and a cigar store. It was at 510 Plymouth Ave. Tragedy struck on Dec. 26, 1925. Their store, and all the apartments above burned down, with the cause unknown. A woman living in a third story apartment died in the fire. After the tragedy, in 1926, Leo and Susie bought and ran a combination bakery and confectionary store on Plymouth Ave. close to where the other store was located.
In the mid-1930s the Bistodeaus changed their business and bought a grocery store at 1501 West Broadway. They carried the “Jack Spratt” line of groceries. In 1946 they built on, increased the floor space and named the store “Bistodeau’s Super Market.” They changed to being a “Red Owl” store, then later a “Red and White” store. They carried a full line of produce, groceries, bakery goods and meats, besides having delivery service. This business gave Leo’s two sons an excellent place to work. Milton, the eldest, was store manager and Ronnie was the do-it-all guy. He stocked, cleaned up and made deliveries. About six or seven other people worked there.
A novel change of pace was to have an open-air market during the summer time. It was located out the “old highway” past Robbinsdale, and was decorated as a circus tent with colorful stripes painted on the canvas roof. They sold fresh produce, aside from having a food stand. The food prices were unbelievably low. For instance, hamburgers were 20 cents, hot dogs 15 cents, sundaes and rootbeer floats 15 cents, and best of all, fried chicken with French fries and salad was only $1.25.
On Dec. 26, 1952, the day after Christmas, coincidentally the same date as the previous store fire, both Leo and Susie passed away with heart attacks within minutes of each other. After that, Milton was left to run the store. He then married one of his cashiers, Noray Laventure. Ronnie and I were already married. As years went by, the store was sold and taken over by Pliam Linoleum. But the Bistodeau’s Super Market was a memorable Northside landmark for many years, and even though called a “Super Market,” was nothing like the supermarkets of today.