Of course one of the early needs was for a store that could provide at least some of the common necessities. Quite a number of people were interested in this kind of enterprise in oneway or another and accounts of their early transactions are somewhat complicated but I have tried to sort them out into some kind of sequential order.
The first store was started by W. H. Ivins in the first home he brought in from Taylor thatstood on the northwest corner of the lot where the High School now stands. His partners were probably J. J. Gubler and Frank Bryner and they called it the Lund Co-op. Gubler and Bryner sold their interest to George M. Burgess and Orrin H. Snow and it became known as the Lund Mercantile. In the meantime Ruth B. Gardner had started a small store with a few items that included notions in her log home on the lot where Dean and Wilma Whipple live today. George M. Burgess sold his interest in the Lund Mercantile to the Gardner brothers (George and David)and they came into the partnership with Orrin Snow. Sometime during this period it appears that William H. Ivins also sold his interest and the business was moved into a house brought in from Taylor for that purpose and located on the lot where Gardner Supply now stands.
John L. Whipple had traded a lot with an adobe house on the upper street where Fern Sinfieldlives with Sinfields for the lot just north of the present church. He brought in another house fromTaylor and set it up between the adobe house he built for himself and the Harrison home andstarted a rival business. It is probable that Moses Harrison was part owner in this store. Later J.L. Whipple sold to J. J. Gubler and Adolphus R. Whitehead and this store then operated under the name of J. J. Gubler and Co.
After about a year the two stores consolidated under the name of Consolidated Mercantile Co. and apparently J.J. Gubler withdrew at this time. The original Whipple building was purchased by the Relief Society and the Y.L.M.I.A. and moved to the lot where Neil Gardner Sr.has part of his museum today. Later Orrin Snow bought out the other stockholders and continuedto run the store until he moved to Canada in 1910. In 1908 he used the stationery of the Consolidated Mercantile Co. when, as Bishop, he had the history of the town to date put in the cornerstone of the cement addition to the original log rooms used as church and school. The letterhead on this stationery reads:
O. H. SnowA. R. Whitehead
G. C. Gardner A. E. Snow
D. C. Gardner M. W. Harrison
Consolidated Mercantile Company
Hay and Grain
Another interesting fact about this store was the kind and quality of merchandise it carried. Ihave some rare and beautiful pieces of china (some Bavarian) that came from Orrin Snow's storeand I am sure other descendants of those early pioneers have articles of equal value and beauty. To me it is incredible that this little country store in an isolated pioneer community, at the beginning of the century, serving a handful of people and receiving all its supplies by freight wagon, should carry such items, and the people bought them!
Easier to understand were the glass jars filled with penny candy that had a special fascination for the children because they didn't get money except on special occasions. The store keeper would take eggs, however, as a medium of exchange and if your mother thought you deserved a treat and she didn't have any money she would allow you to take two or three eggs to the store. You would carry them carefully and make your selection just as carefully, taking your time to look over the tempting jars of colored candies. A nickel or its equivalent would even buy an"opera bar" with its stripes of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla fudge under the chocolate coating.
Some of these businessmen had wider ambitions and in 1904-1905, A. R. Whitehead and 0.H. Snow established a store in Ely, somewhere in the vicinity of the present Steptoe Drug orGoodman's, which they called the Ely Mercantile. Later they incorporated and Mart Petersen,Arthur Snow, H. A. Comins and A. L. Parker came in as stockholders. A. R. Whitehead managed this store for more than two years and for one year his family lived in Ely and his oldest daughter, Gladys clerked in the store.
C. L. (Leslie) Rowe came to Ely from Reno. He was a partner with Gallagher in theestablishment of the Gallagher Feed Store which was first called Rowe and Gallagher. Later hetook up some land and started a small farm operation on a little creek north of Water Canyonwhich still goes by the name of Rowe Creek. About 1907 or 1908 he came to Lund and started asmall store in the adobe house Teddy Cripps had built on the corner lot where Lafayette andLaRue Carter live. When Orrin Snow moved away in 1910, Leslie Rowe bought his store andmoved to that location. While he was in Lund he went to Reno and married and he and his wife,Gladys, lived in some rooms in the back of the store. He was not a Mormon but in 1911 hisname was entered in the M.I.A. roll book and appears frequently thereafter in the M.I.A. minutes for program numbers ranging from singing to reports on current events. After about ten years he sold the store to Bryant Oxborrow and moved back to Reno.
Sometime during this period Rod and Sarah McKenzie had an Ice Cream Parlor in a smallcement building behind the Vance home. They made their own ice cream and were open forbusiness only on Sundays and holidays. The young people didn't have the corner drugstore but they had the Ice Cream Parlor where they could get together on Sunday afternoons. When the small children were lucky enough to have a nickel or a dime they had to make a decision,whether to spend it at Rowe's Store for licorice or jawbreakers or save it for Sunday. If they had the will power to save it until Sunday they were introduced to the delightful flavors, heretofore unknown, that accompanied ice cream sundaes and even ice cream sodas. Sarsparilla was afavorite.
McKenzies probably got their ice from the ice plant in Ely although Dolph Whitehead sometimes allowed a pond of water to stand until it froze into thick ice. Then he would cut itinto large chunks and pack it in sawdust in one of the well insulated rock buildings built into the hillside on the Home Ranch site (possibly the one Ivins' lived in the first year that Delle R. calledthe meat cellar) and it would often last well into the summer.
When Edmund Hendrix Jr. was made postmaster, he and his wife, Reta Whitehead Hendrix,lived ahd kept the post office in the house where Hansens had kept it--the nouse, just north of Luella Whipple's home, that Edward Burgess had built with the bricks that turned out to be adobes. Later Ed Hendrix built two cement rooms on the street across the creek near the old flour mill where he kept the postoffice and a store together. He called the store the Lund Cash Store.
In 1925 Mart Gardner was made postmaster. He used the E. A. Hendrix building for a whileand then he took over the store on Main street from Bryant Oxborrow and he, too, ran the store inconnection with the postoffice. He resigned as postmaster in 1928 but he made some changes inthe building and kept the store, which he called Gardner Grocery, until he retired in 1972. In thealmost fifty years he kept the store he became widely known for his cheerful, outgoingpersonality and his independence in the face of his handicap. He never allowed the fact that hespent his early years on crutches and his later years in a wheel chair to dampen his spirit orundermine his self-reliance. He didn't ask for help--he gave it. In the tradition of the "country store", his place was a gathering place for social contacts as well as business. It was a source of news, important and trivial, and many a gem of wit or wisdom was relayed to the homes with, "'heard it down at Mart's." People from far and near gathered for the party the town gave him whenhe retired and the program that highlighted his life. It wasn't just the retirement of a man but, tothe town, the end of an institution.
Vera Carter Reid was the next to try merchandising in connection with the post office (1928)when she began selling dry goods using a room in the Gardner Grocery building. Later she wentinto partnership with her brothers, Arthur and Lafayette Carter and her mother, Alice Carter. They built a cement building on one corner of the Carter lot on Main street and she moved her merchandise and the post office into it. They expanded the store to included groceries, notions,hardware, garden supplies etc. and they called it Reid and Carter.
Arthur Carter became postmaster in 1931 and continued to run Reid and Carters along with it for thirty years. He added more room to the building and began carrying a line of farm machinery. The farmers in the area were using more and more machinery on their farms as they could afford it but some of the old time settlers were somewhat reluctant to make the change. One day Jim Riordan came into the store and Arthur, ready to make a sale, said, "Jim, I ought to sell you one of these tractors." "Yes, yes," Jim Riordan agreed, "You ought to but you're not going to."
Phillip Carter took over the business from his father and some time later his wife, Ludean Hendrix Carter took over the post office. They carry a wide variety of general merchandise andthe machinery business has expanded enough to require more space. An impressive machinery display occupies a lot behind the telephone office across the street on the next block north of thestore. They call their business Carter's.
When some of the dairy men formed a Cooperative in 1972, their wives decided to have a Cooperative business of their own and on Mart Gardner's retirement they bought the Gardner Grocery. These women were Joan Gardner, Wilma Whipple, Faylene Ivins, Mollie Kaye Reid and Darlene Reid. They took turns with the work, clerking etc. but after two or three years they sold the business to Ted Doke. A short time later he sold to Tom and Jenice Sells who were living on the old Riordan ranch. They retained the Gardner name and are at present (1980) running it under the name of Gardner Supply but the name, Gardner Grocery, remains on the front of the store.
So the town has two stores as it has had most of the time from the beginning. Both have gas pumps and serve as service stations as well although most of the farmers have their own gas and diesel tanks that are replenished at intervals by different gas companies working out of Ely.
What effect recent developments and projections for the future will have on the business economy of the Valley is at this time a matter of conjecture. Certainly, the energy shortage, the completion of the Sunnyside Shortcut, the choice of the Valley as a site for some of the MX missiles, the proposed power project for the county, all carry implications for change from nominal to drastic.