By Naomi Hatch
Ed’s IGA in Snowflake is a family owned business with a history of serving the community. When you shop at Ed’s it takes some time, because you always see friends you stop to visit with.
Ed and LaPriel Gillespie, and their daughter Sherilyn (better known in the community as Shug) and her husband Kipp Peterson are partners in the store. Kipp has worked his way up through the ranks and is now managing the store with Shug, who takes care of the books.
For many years Ed has been a prominent figure in the communities of Taylor and Snowflake in both the food industry and for his many years serving the community on boards or through his church service.
He was born and raised in Vernon, the first 7½ years of his life, then the family moved to St. Johns.
LaPriel was born and raised in Show Low, and is a graduate of Snowflake High School.
Ed served for 4½ years in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1956, completing two tours overseas during the Korean War. One was on the Marshall Islands. For his last six months, he was on a top secret assignment.
Following his service in the Air Force, in 1956 Ed went to work for his brother in construction, and then he went to meat cutters school. In February 1957, he went to work for Nick at Nick’s Market in Show Low, where he worked for five years “almost to the day,” he recalled.
Ed went to work for Nephi Bushman at Food Town, located at Fourth South and Main, in 1962. Six months after that, Bushman was called by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in the Southwest Indian Presidency, and “he asked me to take over as manager,” said Ed.
In 1976 with a few investors Ed bought Bushman out, including the IGA franchise, the stock and equipment. He named his grocery store Ed’s Market and also opened Ed’s Variety that offered a little of everything. “We built on the meat business and produce business,” he said. “We had people from all over the country that came to buy meat.”
“I got into the business where I was able to fully control my philosophy, which was to take care of people,” said Ed, noting that their slogan is Service is our Business. And they do take care of people. It is rare that you have to stand in line to check out. He was able to build a business because he had built up a good reputation.
In 1989, Ed leased Pioneer Market from Fred Adams, and a year later when Adams became ill, he bought the store.
In 1999 the store was remodeled, adding four spaces for businesses.
Kipp recalled that they had a wholesaler architect and discussed a Spanish-style store. About that time, though, the town restored the Freeman Home and Dean Porter restored the old Flake Bros. Store, as well as the Osmer D B&B. “We decided to go the historical look,” said Kipp.
Ed noted that the Fred Adams family wanted to keep the Freeman Home as a historic building, and, “We had no problem with that.”
When they tore down the old Pioneer Market that was built with bricks made in Snowflake, they were able to save many of them, which Gillespie donated to the town to remodel the north side of the Freeman Home that had deteriorated so badly. Some brick was also used in the newly remodeled Ed’s IGA Supermarket.
Ed retired in 2008 after 51 years in the grocery business.
Education is important to Ed. He served 2½ years on the Show Low School Board and 24 years on the Snowflake Unified School District Governing Board. He also provided jobs so young men and women could go to school. “I have taught a lot of young men and women how to run grocery stores and cut meat; in fact, several of them got through school by learning the meat business,” he noted.
Along with his business, Ed served the LDS church, five years as bishop, as a member of the stake presidency, mission president in this area serving a stake mission, as a member of the High Council and in 1993 he was called as Stake Patriarch, serving as such for 17 years. Due to a heart attack in 2010, he was placed on non-functioning status.
Ed has always been willing to share his musical talent, too, playing the guitar and singing.
For two years following his retirement, Ed did his best to catch up on honey-do’s, but gave that up when he had the heart attack.
“We were able to make Snowflake-Taylor a better place to shop,” said Ed. “That’s been our policy for all the years.”
“We put all six children through school here,” he noted, adding as a proud grandfather should that they have 36 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, making five generations.
Focusing back on the store, Kipp said, “Many people feel we have a really good meat department. We’ve been very successful there.
“We try to provide good customer service; we don’t want people to stand in line, so we do our best to put people through the registers as fast as possible.
“IGA stands for Independent Grocers Alliance,” he continued. “That allows us to buy as a group so we can be competitive with chains in our pricing. That’s been a real asset to us.”
The store’s Win What You Spend program has been popular with shoppers for approximately six years. Shoppers put their receipts in a box for a weekly drawing, and winner receives the amount he or she spent.
For more than 12 years Ed’s Market has provided the eggs for the town Easter egg hunt, and the firm donates to school and community activities.
“It’s been a great opportunity to have so many high school students have part-time jobs here; we’re on the second generation of children whose parents worked here in high school,” said Kipp. “It’s been good for us, and I think it’s been good for the high school students.”
The Petersons are both Snowflake High School graduates; they have 12 children who attend Snowflake schools.
Kipp’s dad, Dale Peterson, was raised in Snowflake, so the family moved back to Snowflake when Kipp was 3 years old.
He has served the LDS church in various callings including bishop, and he has served on the Snowflake-Taylor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
“I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to stay here. Most people born here have had to move away to find a job,” said Kipp.
“It’s been a joy and blessing to be able to live with the people in this community and to be married to somebody from here, to have the same upbringing and ideas about life.”
By Naomi Hatch