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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
Yesterday I told the story of John Neeleman and the birth of the convenience store through his Miniature Markets.
John insisted that his Miniature Markets were not "convenience stores." He said they were "service stores." One of the first 24-hour grocery stores in the country - several years before 7-Eleven stores, he catered to serving split-shifters, truck drivers, college students, late-working waitresses and entertainers. He cashed their checks when nobody else would, delivered groceries to nearby apartment houses, shut-ins, and to anyone who needed something even if he didn't carry it. Son Gary remembers if someone asked for a product he didn't have, John would stall the customer with a doughnut and a cup of coffee or a cold drink while Gary was sent to the backroom with a wink to "look" for the item. Gary would then bolt out the back door to the Safeway Store a few blocks away to bring back the needed item. "Dad hated to tell anyone he didn't have what was needed," Gary said.
In the early years, Johnny depended upon his own children and later his grandchildren to help with the business. They all remember checking at the cash register while standing on a milk crate.
When Grandpa Neeleman died in 1990, David Neeleman, then president of Morris Air and now president of Jet Blue told those who attended Johnny's funeral that much of his creative business sense he owed to his grandfather.
A few years ago the family sold the Sixth South store and the Sugerhouse Pinecone restaurant but the 33rd South store lived on under the direction of his daughter Diana Miller. Finally, after a half century as a neighborhood store, the old building will come down an in its place, a new 5,000 square foot Miniature Market.
Mike Wilson and his wife Lisa, granddaughter of John will be operating the new facility. When they cut the ribbon on the new store, you can be sure Grandpa Neeleman will be looking on and will be proud.
For Zions Bank, I’m Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.