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In 1930 two Iowa businessmen formed a grocery store partnership. Charles HYDE and David VREDENBURG already had separately owned or managed several stores in Iowa and Missouri before starting their partnership's first store, a general retail store in Beaconsfield, Iowa, that sold groceries and dry goods such as clothing.

For a few years both founders continued to run separate stores and stores with other partners, while also running some stores together. However, in 1934 these general stores with such names as The Supply Stores, Hyde Service Store, and Vredenburg Grocery began selling only groceries. In 1938 the original partnership was dissolved when Hyde & Vredenburg was incorporated. The new operation, with 15 stores in Iowa and Missouri, was owned by 16 store managers who traded ownership in local stores for corporate stock.

Thus began the company's heritage of being an employee-owned organization. The new corporation headquartered in Lamoni, Iowa, chose Dwight VREDENBURG, a son of the cofounder, as its president. Its 1938 annual sales were about $1.5 million. In 1940 Hy-Vee found its customers were reluctant to start using "baskets on wheels," or grocery carts, said Dwight VREDENBURG in the February 20, 2000 Des Moines Register. First introduced in its Centerville, Iowa store, the carts reminded women of baby buggies, and men felt the carts were "for sissies whose arms weren't strong enough to carry a few groceries." But free candy bars in each new cart soon persuaded customers to try the new contraptions.

In the 1970s Hy-Vee continued to grow by opening new stores, building more warehouse space, and adding new technology. A 1971 addition of 78,000 square feet brought the total capacity of the Chariton warehouse up to 430,000 square feet. In addition, in 1976 the company built a secondary warehouse/office complex in Cherokee, Iowa. Hy-Vee started stores in three additional states during the decade: South Dakota in 1975, Nebraska in 1977, and Illinois in 1979. Other company landmarks for the decade included the opening of the 100th store, in Keokuk, Iowa (also the first store in the chain to use electronic cash registers), and surpassing the $500 million annual sales mark, in 1978, for the first time.

First Hy-Vee Store, Beaconsfield, Iowa

Compiled by Sharon R. Becker, November 18, 2007

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 15, 2015, Page 6

Submission by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

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