George W. Roup Grocery Store

George W. Roup Grocery Store

"Autobiography of a Very Common Fellow"

    Mr. Roup began in this grocery store at 161 Turner Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan as Roup and Idema about 1906.  By 1908 Joseph Idema was no longer a partner in this business.  Mr. Roup remained in the grocery business at this location until at least 1915 and lived above the store. 

    Below is an autobiography of Mr. Roup's earlier days in business.

"During the summer of 1904 I (Mr. Roup) was advised to build a small store at Englishville corners and attempt to build my own business.  After the small building was erected, I had about $200 to buy a stock of goods; that was very slim capital and I ran low on stock each week.  I bought a horse, wagon and buggy; made one trip each week and hauled back all the stock that my horse could haul.  I also had some goods shipped to the R.R. station.  I delivered groceries to any farms that gave me orders and bought butter and eggs, which I sold in the city of on my weekly trips.  The horse, and that should be a Capital H. Horse quite often knew more than his owner.  The preacher at Ballards Corners sold him to me at a low price because he had, one Sunday morning, when he had a sermon on his mind, slapped the horse on the rump without notifying the nervous animal of his presence, horse kicked the young parson so hard that he nearly put him through the little window that was used to throw out stable cleanings.  The preacher was nearly killed and wanted that horse no longer.  He never kicked me, but he had all the other tricks that a horse could possibly know.  He could jump sideways off the road more quickly than any horse I had ever seen; ran away by breaking the tie strap and spilled groceries all over the country side.  He objected to the long trip to the city and would loaf along until I reached for the whip and then jump so fiercely that once he dumped two cases of eggs on a winter day when they were bringing a good price.

    During the one and a half years that I was running the little country store, my first daughter, Thelma, was born, just after midnight, January 2, 1905.

    One feature of my country store business, I should like to relate, quite a bunch of young men had the habit of dropping in during the evening to buy a can of oil sardines -- 10 cents each and perhaps a pound of crackers to pass around.  We talked or played checkers until I locked the doors at 9 p.m.  Sardines and crackers had to be on hand whether I ran out of flour or not.  I was not making money above expenses.  A salesman brought word that Mr. Burdick at 5th and Turner in the city was afflicted with T.B. and had to sell his nice little grocery.  It was beyond my means but Joseph Idema, a long time friend had saved some money.  He offered to become a silent partner and loaned me an extra $200.  In that way, we each invested $300, and assumed debts to the wholesale houses of about $300.  I sold all that we had at Englishville, even the building for $100 and hauled it to the outskirts of the city.  We loaded  it on wagon wheels and two teams hauled it about 10 miles; no mishaps except to one telephone line, for which I had to pay $15.00.  So, Rou and Idema became city grocers."

Business prospered and Mr. Roup and another friend bought an additional store at Sixth and Scribner, two blocks from 5th and Turner and in a better building.  The adventure did not meet expenses and the bills continued to pile up.  He developed serious stomach/ulcer problems until Dr. Corbus warned him to get out of business if he wanted to live.  He moved the dry goods back to Englishville R.R. building, ran the general store there again and was postmaster and station agent for a while.  Later, he went on to commercial sales.

(Prior to this he had taught at a succession of schools: Briggs School (Fiske Knob); Solon Center; Harrisburg, Canada Corners; Champion (Slocum's Grove); Pearsal; Alpine; Berlin; Marne and Kent City.  He and his wife, Pearl (English), both taught at Kent City - she in the primary school and George as the principal.  His salary was $65 a month there.  He had a State Approved First which was equivalent to a B.A. degree and certified him to teach high school.)

The information is from an unpublished autobiography that George Roup wrote when he was 85 years old - "Autobiography of a Very Common Fellow". 

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 21 January 2003

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