Hopkins Grocery, 301 Spruce

Hopkins Grocery, 301 Spruce Street, Boonville
(on the Corner of Third and Spruce)

Woodard B. Hopkins in front of Hopkins Grocery ("For Good Things to Eat"), at 301 Spruce Street in Boonville, an affiliate of Associated Grocers (AG). Hopkins Grocery was founded on January 23, 1930 when Woodard Hopkins bought the former Sherman Grocery business, soon turning it into the first self-serve grocery in Boonville. Hopkins had previously worked at the Fred G. Lohse Grocery on Main Street, and with the Kroger Corporation in St. Louis. Woodard Hopkins died in June 1961; the store was continued by his wife Erna until October 1965. The store was known throughout mid-Missouri for its specialized foods and personal service.

The original building of Hopkins Grocery before its expansion in 1951-52. At left and right parts of two older houses can be seen which were razed to add new produce and meat wings at the store's left and rear, as well as a cold storage locker and a stock room. A third house further up Spruce, adjacent to the present AME church parsonage, was also razed. Woodard and Erna Hopkins' first marital home was the apartment above the store, with an entrance via outside stairs behind the building.

Also visible is the infamous 'mis-spelled' store sign. Trout's Bakery, across Main Street from the Boonville Mercantile, provided (gratis) signs for the store which also advertised its Holsum bread. While the store had always been called "Hopkins Grocery" this time the painter decided to make Hopkins possessive, but got the apostrophe in the wrong place. Erna Hopkins, formerly an English teacher, got some teasing before Trout's re-painted the wall.

Two composites of 'documentary' photos of the store taken on 24 December 1957 by John Hopkins (then 11 years old). At top left Woodard B. Hopkins is entering the store; at top right the window shades have been lowered after the store closed early on Christmas eve. At bottom left the Third Street view of the 1951-52 expansion can be seen, and at bottom right the Holsum Bread 'rabbit' sign [the original Ben Trout's Bakery was now the Holsum Bakery, whose rabbit logo was well known in the Boonslick Region], with Hopkins' Grocery now properly punctuated.

At right, the rear of the 1951-52 addition can be seen, comprising additional store space at right and the combination stock room, butcher's room, and meat storage refrigerator extending at left toward the camera. The white shed with one panel ajar holds refrigeration machinery. Also visible are the rear of the apartment above the store, with the back door no longer in use after the store addition. Across Third Street part of the facade of Kemper's Johnston Field House can be seen. At top right the Hopkins family car of the time, a white 1956 Ford sedan, is parked on Spruce Street, along with a Taystee Bread delivery van. Bottom left shows another Holsum Bread rabbit on the east side of the store building, along with part of the staircase railing going up to the apartment above. At bottom right, under the staircase, is the bottle-return storage area (deposits were refunded on empty bottles in those days, with bottlers picking up the empties weekly to be washed and re-used).

The store building in 2007, windows boarded, all signs removed, and the upstairs apartment long since vacant. The building was then owned by the Boonville Junior Chamber of Commerce, which had built a meeting room at the right rear, part of which is visible.

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Last Updated 26 April 2020