by nathan oster
While the faces were the same behind the counter and in the check-out line, you could tell by the signs hanging on the outside of the building and the new color of the uniforms that Tuesday, April 14 wasn’t just another day in the life of Greybull’s only grocery store.
A significant event in the store’s history went down with the official transfer of the store from Ron Fiene, who for nearly four decades guided Ron’s Food Farm, to Kent and Brent Foulger, twin brothers and the owners of three other grocery stores in the Big Horn Basin.
Greybull now joins the original store in Powell, which opened in 1980, as well as stores in Worland and Thermopolis in the Blair’s family.
The grocery business is a family enterprise for the Foulger brothers. Brent runs the store in Powell, Kent the one in Worland. They are the sons of the store’s namesake. Their father, first name Blair, bought Max’s in Powell in 1980. It was there that Blair’s got its start.
The Foulger brothers were born in Ogden, Utah.
In 1982, they joined their father in working at the Powell store.
Since that time, Blair has retired and under his sons’ management, Blair’s has become a force in the grocery market in the communities of Worland and Powell. They have been in Worland since 1999 and in Thermopolis since 2009.
Both men are married with families.
Brent, who manages the Powell Blair’s, and his wife have four children. Their two boys work at the store in Powell. They also have two daughters, along with five grandchildren.
Kent, who runs the Worland store, has a similar life story. He and his wife have three children, he has a son-in-law who works at his store in Worland, and, like his brother, he has five grandchildren.
Asked what it’s like, running a business together, they chuckle. “Well, he’s in Worland, I’m in Powell,” said Brent. “It works pretty well that way.”
Kidding aside, Brent said he’d always admired Ron’s Food Farm from afar, “and what’s done in the community. We had no intentions of buying it, partly because we knew Ron was enjoying it. But then he approached us about selling,” said Brent. “You don’t get too many opportunities to buy a grocery store. We couldn’t pass it up.”
Fiene has retained ownership of the building, as the Foulgers are simply leasing it to him.
After this initial transition is complete — and they were well on their way early Tuesday afternoon — Kent and Brent will return to their respective home bases, leaving the Greybull store to Doyal Waterworth, a longtime employee of Ron’s Food Farm.
Shoppers won’t notice a lot of changes, at least at first.
Down the road, though, a significant expansion is planned. The grocery store will grow to the north, wiping out the area that had been between Ron’s and Shopko, used primarily by Shopko for storage and outdoor display purposes. The Foulgers say it’ll result in new cases, new refrigeration and freezer sections and and an expanded variety of produce.
The Foulgers say they kept all the Ron’s Food Farm employees in place.
They run a Blair’s Plus program in which shoppers earn rewards for every dollar that they spend in the store. That program will be introduced right away, they said.
The transition from Ron’s to Blair’s began in earnest Sunday night, when the store closed at 7 p.m. for inventory. Monday was the big day, as workers toiled from long before sunrise to long after sunset, setting the stage for Tuesday’s launch of the Blair’s line.
Store hours, for right now anyway, are going to remain the same.
“This is exciting,” said Kent. “Like we said, you don’t have many opportunities to expand your business. The Big Horn Basin has been great to us. We’re excited to be in Greybull.”