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Some of the information here was obtained from an article by Debbie Koch in
the book "Tales from the Trees" written by Ailene Hayes Schneider.
The original Vissering Mercantile Company was started by John Vissering, Sr. in 1889 in the south block of Chestnut Street. In 1890 Vissering and his new partner Conrad Kohl purchased 3 buildings at the end of North Chestnut and Sixth Streets from Minor Ames who had his Mine Company Store located there. The complex eventually contained a dry goods store on the corner with a grocery store located immediately to the south followed by an appliance store. Each of the stores was connected by a huge archway. Kohl operated the dry goods store until 1918 when Vissering took over. There was a big meat market at the rear of the grocery store.
Vissering was involved in the stores until his death in 1940 when his son Herman took over
the dry goods store and John Jr. and his daughter Viola and her husband Walter
Beckman managed the other stores.
The operation of the stores was much different from today's super markets. A customer would give his order to a clerk who would write the items down on paper. The clerk would then gather the items in one or more baskets and bring it to the customer for checkout. Often the clerk would take a long hook and deftly pick off a can of beans from the top of the shelf and catch it in the basket. The dry goods section had a pneumatic tube system common in many department stores at that time. When a customer paid for the items the clerk would put the money in a little canister, which was then sucked pneumatically in a tube to the upstairs open mezzanine where the cashier would make change, and return it to the clerk.
There was plenty of competition among grocery stores in Minonk years ago. As late as
the 1950's Minonk had, in addition to Vissering's, the following stores; A & P,
Krogers, Chicago Butchers, Buds Royal Blue, Gregorich Meat Market and Bradbury's.
Vissering's and Bud's Royal Blue operated panel trucks for home delivery.
In November of 1952 the Vissering stores were destroyed in a tremendous fire on a Friday evening. It drew a large crowd to witness the terrible event. The next morning cans of food with no labels were given to anyone who would take them. The store was remodeled and was operated by the Vissering family until 1963 when it was bought by Glen Carls, Eldon Johnson and Ernie Moran and its name was changed to the Chicago Butchers. It eventually was sold to a hardware company and is now an empty building.
The morning after the fire that destroyed the Vissering Mercantile Store in 1952.
John Vissering Sr. cutting a birthday cake probably in the 1920's.