Ogema, SK -
The history of the Libby & Sons store starts when the store was built in approximately 1912. Charlie Worden moved from Rouleau to Ogema in 1920 buying the hardware store from Mr. Benjamin. At first they lived above the store; on the other side of the common staircase the Masons held their meetings upstairs.
In 1943, Abe Libby moved from Renown to Ogema and he purchased the general store from Louie Sier and called it Libby & Sons Retail. Abe owned the north half of the building on Main Street and Charlie Worden's hardware store was in the other half. Above each store were apartments divided by stairs running up the centre of the building. Abe and his family lived above the store which was originally the Masonic Lodge Hall.
In 1946, when Charlie Worden retired, Abe bought the whole building and had it renovated to its present size. Store hours in those days were from eight-thirty a.m. to six p.m.; the clerks never left until the dust sheets had been put on all the dry goods shelves and racks and the floor had been swept.
Ann Libby worked in the store as well and the children were expected to help too, working without pay for it was considered their duty to help their parents. They didn't mind working after school so much, it was the Saturday nights they objected to, for the store stayed open until eleven at night and the current boyfriends and girlfriends had a long wait until closing time. For years on Saturday night after the store closed, Abe would treat all the clerks and his children to lunch in the hotel next door. The Chinese cook would always keep his specialty for them, banana cream pie.
"Wages were thirty-two dollars a month. Print dresses sold for $1.95 and you could get a good dress for $9.99. Round steak cost 31 cents a pound; veal was 32 cents a pound while Camay soap sold four bars for 25 cents."
- Taken from the book Prairie Grass to Golden Grain, 1982
After Abe and Ann's son Conrad (Connie) attended the University of Saskatchewan in Regina, he returned to Ogema and managed his father's store and bought it when Abe moved to Moose Jaw in 1952. Cecil Grainger went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Connie Libby in 1973. In 1989, Jerry Tondevold went into partnership with Connie and sold his share to Bev Klemenz in 1993. In 1999 Bev and Ken Klemenz took sole ownership and in 2008, they also purchased C&C Groceries. In the fall of 2008, Ken and Bev decided to expand their operations and built a brand new structure across the street from the original Libby & Sons store. After a weekend of moving everything from the two old stores to the new store, business started in the new store on April 27, 2009.
The new store is 7,000 square feet of retail space that features one-stop shopping convenience. A full line of groceries sold under the Family Foods banner of McDonalds Consolidated along with Sears catalogue shopping, video rentals, lottery tickets, liquor board store as well as an in-store bakery.
On June 20, 2009 Bev and Ken held their Grand Opening of the new store with specials and taste tests of new products and a toonie lunch barbeque with the proceeds going to the Ogema Rink Kitchen. The old Libby's store has been sold to the Ogema Co-op for display and storage and the old C&C Groceries has been renovated and sold to the Ogema Regional Park and made into a second hand store.
This "city store in the country" is a great example of individuals buying into our community's development and the future of our town.