Success Stories – Reynolds Market – Established in 1963

   Reynolds Market has been the main retail anchor in the busy Schell’s Lake City Shopping Center in Baker, Montana for over five decades.

Home of the Foxy Shopper

By Sherry Vogel

   Reynolds Market has been the main retail anchor in the busy Schell’s Lake City Shopping Center in Baker, Montana for over five decades.

   Now in its fifty-third year of operation, the thriving grocery market has flourished under the same family’s management for the past 48 years. This success is owed to three generations of the Schell family, who have provided a foundation of stability in an ever-changing economic environment.

In the beginning

   Early in 1963, during Baker’s second largest oil field boom which swelled the town’s population to 6,000 people, the F.T. Reynolds Corporation, headed by Jack Reynolds, Glendive and John T. Marman, Sidney, Mont. decided to expand their Reynolds grocery store chain by building a grocery outlet in Baker. The town already accommodated four other long-standing grocery stores; the Economy Grocery Store, which was in its 46th year of operation, (1917-1977) Bud’s Super Valu, (1948-1990) the Red Owl Store (1946-1964) and the South Side grocery (1944-1966).

   On Dec 12, 1963 the Fallon County Times newspaper ran a full two page spread announcing the Grand Opening of “Reynolds New Food Market in Baker, Montana”. The store was spacious, bright and had all the modern amenities of the latest large retail operations of its time.  It didn’t take long before many of the Baker’s inhabitants were humming the store jingle, “Be Foxy Shop Reynolds”.

   The grand opening, a full three-day event, was the talk of the town. The new owners served coffee and donuts and held free drawings every hour for free groceries and prizes.

   The coveted grand prize was a beautiful floor model console, a combination of a Hi-Fi and Television in a beautiful solid wood cabinet. The store also held drawings, for the “Big Kids” (12-17 yr.) who were of box- boy age. They had an opportunity to win LP Hi-Fi stereo records – the latest rage of the day.

   Pat Killworth, a native of Glendive was the first manager with Chuck Forey, of Baker as assistant manager.  Killworth managed the store for the first five years before moving to Sheridan, Wyoming. Chuck Forey also moved to be Killworth’s assistant manager.        

New Management Schell & Oberlander

   In 1968, after Killworth relocated, Clarence Schell was hired as the manager. Clarence, who had once been employed at the Super Valu store, was then the owner and operator of Schell’s Meat Service. It was a plus that he brought meat cutting skills to the market as well.

   Leonard Oberlander, long time Baker resident, who had been working for Reynolds since it opened, was moved up to the assistant manager position. Oberlander was a long term employee of Reynolds for 18 years.

   Over the next 28 years, Clarence managed the market. He and his wife, Dolores, saw a lot of change over the next few decades.

   When the store was in its first years of operation, the Reynolds building, which was constructed by Lawrence Steffes, shared the graveled parking lot with a hardware store and a trailer house dealership. It wasn’t until a few years later that the parking lot was paved and it became the home of a bakery, a fabric shop and Anfinson’s Fleet Wholesale.

   Running a grocery store was hard work and a 24/7 proposition. Clarence put in some long hours trying to bring the best values and good quality food items to the market. He had a wonderful crew of dedicated employees, many of them working their way up to managing the various departments.  In addition to Mr. Oberlander, the store had a lengthy list of long term employees with such names as Pinnow, Haga, Halmans, Austin and Rick and Larry  Schell who are family members.

   Reflecting back, Clarence’s wife Dolores, who worked at the store for 43 years, has some wonderful memories of the fun times. She enjoyed hosting the Customer Appreciation Day feeds which were held once or twice a year.

Schell’s Lake City Shopping Center

   Over the course of his 28 years of management at Reynolds, Clarence bought the store building and its surrounding land.  He successfully developed Schell’s Lake City Shopping Center, the first and only shopping mall in Baker.

   This busy commercial retail development has housed a number of businesses over the years including: a bakery, a fabric store, shoe store, a ladies dress shop, a number of  hardware franchises, a variety store, a couple of farm and  wholesale stores, an auto supply store, a number of eateries, a beauty shop, business offices and a laundromat.   

   A number of changes also developed within the store. One major improvement was the addition of an in-store bakery.

   The grocery store business changed in a number of ways during the 28 years of Clarence and Doloris’ management. One change noted is in the number of vendors that make deliveries to the store.  For instance, in the past many vendors delivered food items each week. There was a bread vendor, a potato chip vendor, soda vendors, etc.

   Although a few items remain to be brought in by separate distributors, the majority of items now are purchased through the Associated Food Stores warehouse. Reynolds receives a delivery from the AFS Salt Lake City based warehouse 3x a week. This new association helps Reynolds remain competitive in the current market of big box store conglomerates. This has become the trend in the grocery industry so that smaller grocery chains are able to make more economical purchases to pass the savings onto their customers.

   New technology has also been a factor in the ever changing world of the food industry. It used to take many man hours from delivery to shelving the products, when each item had to be hand stamped with its price. Now the shelving clerk has only to scan a bar code with a hand held digital computer device which only takes a matter of minutes.

   Scanning has also made the distribution of sale ad items and promotions more efficient.

   In times past, the cashier had to be proficient at memorizing the ever changing sales ads. Because sale items changed each week this was quite a challenging endeavor. Today scanners connected to the computerized cash registers do all the work.

   Reynolds latest technical advancements are the self-check-out counters that provide the customer a quicker, more efficient way to get in and out of the store in less time.   

Second Generation Management

   In 1996, when Clarence decided it was time to retire, he passed the torch on to his son Ken.

   Ken, no stranger to Reynolds, had begun working at the store in 1971 as a carry-out. So by the time Clarence was ready to retire, his son had already been working at Reynolds for 23 years. He had a good working knowledge of all aspects of the operations of the store.

   Ken who had started as a carry out when he was 13 yrs. old, moved up to working in the slaughter house by age 15.  A couple years later at 17, he became the produce manager. Since he was still in school, it made for a long day. He would go to work at 6 a.m. till school started, go to school till 1:30 at which time he went back to Reynolds and worked under the school’s Decca program.

   Around graduation time Mr. Oberlander retired from being assistant manager so Ken was promoted to that position.

   Ken stated, “I really liked working in the store. I felt like it was a good fit. I knew I’d found my place.” It was such a good fit that he was the manager there for the next 18 years.

   Ken’s dedication and hard work paid off when the owners of the F.T. Reynolds Corporation took notice of his dedication to the company and excellent performance as a manager, offering him the position of Vice President of the F.T. Reynolds Corporation. “It’s funny that most people believe I’m enjoying my retirement years but I’m actually working long hours and working harder than I was working before” added Ken.

Third Generation takes helm


  Following in his father’s footsteps, the current manager of Reynolds, Chris Schell, also began also working at Reynolds Market as a carry out, at the age of 13. He worked at the store throughout high school, graduating in 1996.

   He then attended college, later working for the Coca Cola Corp. for seven years. In Feb. 2006 he returned to Reynolds as a cashier quickly working his way up to bakery manager and then also becoming the manager of the deli as well.

   In 2013, Chris advanced to assistant manager after long time employee and assistant manager Joe Halmans decided to pursue other interests. He was assistant manager for one and a half years until he was made manager when his father Ken decided to accept the position of Vice President of the Reynolds Corporation. In turn Jake Schell, Ken’s youngest son, was promoted to assistant manager.

   Chris’s philosophy is not unlike his father and grandfather before him. He stated, “I want the people of Baker to shop here because we have provided a place where people want to buy their groceries.”

   Now with a year and a half of experience as manager and assistant manager of Reynolds, the third generation is successfully managing the Baker Reynolds market, as they continue to strive as their father and grandfather before them to bring high quality food products, at fair prices and high quality customer service, in a modern retail setting, to the residents of Fallon County.

   It’s true today as it was in 1963, that not every small town the size of Baker can boast such a modern food market, which has all the amenities of a larger grocery, proving once again that it truly is to “Be Foxy Shop Reynolds.”