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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Vicki Viall photo

Decades old Reynolds building gone in about an hour (slideshow)

By Vicki Viall

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

A moment in history came to an end on Wednesday, July 9. The building that, for many years, housed Reynolds Wholesale was demolished.

Unofficial family historians Richard and Patrick Reynolds said the wholesale building on Merrill was still in decent shape with the exception of a couple of leaks in the roof and the occasional need to run the sump pump in the basement due to seepage.

Despite the fact the building was no longer in use.   Richard’s sister Rita McGovern had continued to pay rent to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for the lot as well as taxes, so the decision was made to demolish the building.

On demolition day, many local residents came by to watch this piece of history fade away.

Though Reynolds Wholesale had moved its offices to another location, this building held much history for both Reynolds Wholesale, the Reynolds family and Glendive.

The end of the Reynolds Wholesale building was a chance for cousins Richard and Patrick Reynolds to reminisce about the history of the family business. 

During World War II, company founder Frank Reynolds pressed his young sons, Richard and Jack, into working in his store after school, on Saturdays and after church on Sunday.

Richard was in fifth grade when he started working in the store. And he, along with brother Jack, continued working in the store until the war ended.

Richard spent 20 years working for F. T. Reynolds Co., but also had a long career with the State of Montana as a Gross Vehicle Operator. Combining the two years  he served in the United States Army in Korea with his State of Montana service, he retired with more than 21 years service.

Patrick worked for F. T. Reynolds Wholesale until he retired in 2009 after 55 years. 

F. T. Reynolds had been established on March 21, 1925. 

“Frank worked for Douglas-Meade Company in Glendive. Douglas-Meade was a general store,” Richard Reynolds said.

Frank’s next job with as a clerk for J. M. Sawyer’s Company in Glendive, and when Sawyer expanded into Terry, that was opened by Frank. He ran that store for Sawyer’s for approximately two years, according to Reynolds.

After a venture in Rexbur, Idaho, Frank returned to Glendive. At that point,  Frank felt confident that he could run his own business. And so, F. T. Reynolds was born.

While neither Richard nor Patrick remember the exact date that the building on Merrill became the headquarters for F. T. Reynolds Wholesale, Richard narrowed it down between 1952-56.

Richard remembers the company offering customers credit long before the days of credit cards. Customers were allowed  to “put their purchases on their account.” 

While most customers paid off their account at the end of each month, many farmers paid their accounts twice a year.

“There were many farmers and ranchers that the F. T. Reynolds, Co., carried through the ‘dirty thirties’ by accepting their grain and storing it until the price came up and they were able to sell it,” Richard said. “Also, many famers and ranchers would trade in fresh eggs, butter, produce, etc., for groceries. This was the barter system in those days and it did work.”

While some grocery stores now allow shopping online and have curbside grocery pickup, when you shopped with F. T. Reynolds Co., shoppers could have the groceries deliverd free of charge. Richard remembers those deliveries being made via horse and buggy.

Richard and Patrick were both emphatic about their pride in Frank for creating, running and growing such a successful business on an eighth grade education.

Vicki Viall can be contacted at rrwriter@rangerreview.com.

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