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Unearthing a piece of history

An old Red & White Food Stores sign has been donated to the Tea Area Historical Society. The sign, pictured above, was unearthed by Pete Daggett of Diamond D Construction at a lot in Tea.

Daggett has been doing dirt work for Josh Chapman of J&R Mechanical, as he is constructing a new building, located just north of O’Toole’s Bar, across the street on West Second.

Daggett said while doing the dirt work, he uncovered the big red sign — first one half and days later the other half to complete the words: Red & White Food Stores. Chapman added that they have had to hand dig all the poles as they have pulled out hundreds of bricks. The other unique find in the digging process has been old horse shoes.

Dick Gors with the Tea Historical Society said they were happy to accept the donation of the vintage sign.

Red & White stores were independent grocery stores in small towns. The company did centralized buying and distribution for the small stores to allow them to compete against large chains that were consolidating their power in the 1920s. All members of this group had the words Red & White as part of their names, usually with the owner’s name or town name as well. The firm started around 1925.

According to the Time for Tea history book compiled by the Tea Area Historical Society a Red and White store was located at the corner of Main and Second in 1938, west of that was the Bluebird Cafe — the location of the new J&R Mechanical building.

The grocery store began as Peters & Heeren Dry Goods Grocery and Hardware Store built in the 1880s. The post office and telephone office were also in this building. It burned in 1911. Mr. John Peters built a one story store to replace the one that burned. Then in the spring of 1938 the store burned again along with the Bluebird Cafe that stood west of the Peter’s store. Peter’s store was rebuilt in 1938 and that building featured the Red & White Food Stores sign that was discovered in 2021 by Daggett.


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