Field bids farewell to Jim's Market
Last updated 11/3/2022 at 10:19pm
LIND - At the end of September, Jeff Field retired after working four and a half decades as an employee of Jim's Market on West Second Avenue.
"Three quarters of my life was in that store," he said. "I started in May of 1976 and worked there until September 30 of this year. I retired the day after I turned 62."
His family lived in Toroda Creek near the Canadian border, not far from Field's birthplace in Tonasket. They moved to Lind in the summer of 1972, and a few years later Field took a job with Jim Stevenson, founder of Jim's Market.
Stevenson emigrated from Scotland to Spokane after World War II. He married and started a family, which he supported by working at a Spokane grocery store. According to an article in Adam's County Magazine (2019), a Spokane businessman "took a liking to Jim, saw his work...and decided to give him an opportunity." The businessman discovered a grocery store in Lind and offered to provide financial backing. So Stevenson purchased the store and christened it "Jim's Market."
When the original grocery store burned down in the 1970s, Stevenson bought and remodeled a tractor dealership at the store's current site. Stevenson's son Dale took over management of the store when his father passed away in 1990. With Jeff Field's help, the younger Stevenson kept the business afloat throughout the ensuing decades.
In November 2021, Stevenson retired. Land records show that he sold the property to the current owner, United Brothers, Inc, for $242,000.
Stevenson praised his former employee's work ethic and reliability. "For over forty years Jeff was a trustworthy and dependable employee. Together we kept the store going when most of the businesses in Lind didn't survive."
Local resident Sue Nichols agrees: "I've been in Lind for over 20 years and Jeff was one of the first people I met. He has always gone above and beyond. You just don't get that kind of service anymore."
Why did Field start his career at Jim's Market so long ago?
As a teenager at Lind High School, he participated in a "diversified occupation" program, a course that combined classroom instruction with on-the-job training. After graduation in 1979, he stayed on.
"Back when I started working at Jim's Market," Field recalls, "the town had a drug store, variety store, grocery store, implement store, and a couple of well-drilling businesses. But many families that homesteaded in the area are gone. Many have passed away."
He acknowledges the difficulty of running a grocery store in a small town. "There are a least ten Walmarts in a 100-mile radius of Lind," he said. "We couldn't beat Walmart or Costco prices, so we competed on the basis of customer service. For years we carried groceries to customers' cars and delivered groceries."
Throughout his career, Field tried to remain aloof from local politics. "I was on the cemetery board, but quit when the town installed solar panels," he said. "We couldn't get enough water at the cemetery, so people would 'jump me' at the store. I couldn't take it anymore. In a small town, you can't take sides in political issues. If you put up the wrong political sign, it will hurt your business," Field observed.
He's also observed that people have changed-and not always for the better. "They aren't as civil as they used to be," he said. "I've been 'flipped off' twice. One day I was working at the cash register and a customer asked me who I voted for in the last election. When I didn't answer, he called me a f***ing bigot. It was after the January 6 news reports came out. The guy had moved here from out of town. He didn't know me and just 'went off' on me," Field said.
"That kind of thing bothers me. I'm kind of a softy, I guess."
In 1992 Field married Connie, a Ritzville girl who was substitute teaching at the time. His wife has taught here for over thirty years and currently works with kids needing assistance with reading and math.
Jeff and Connie Field have two children, both of whom graduated from Ritzville High School and currently live in Ritzville. His daughter Christina works at Rose Garden Estates. His son Alan teaches physical education at the Lind elementary and middle schools.
Last year, Field's son was working in Tonasket and living in a house with Brendan Bermea. "When Alan heard about teaching vacancies at Ritzville, he encouraged Brendan to apply," Field said. In part because of his son's prompting, Bermea is now a Lind-Ritzville middle school teacher and the head coach of Ritzville's high school football team.
In retirement, Jeff Field expects to stay close to his small-town roots. "We don't want to leave the area," he said. "We have our kids here, and don't know where we'd go anyway."
He added, "I've met a lot of nice people over the years and have a lot of great memories."