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Snooks Food Store - Springfield's oldest operating business
06.07 echoes tommy snooks
Tommy Snooks, owner of Snooks Food Store, is shown in the Effingham Herald in 2000 - photo by Photo submitted

Snooks Food Store has been operating in the same location for over 59 years.

In January 1948, Otto Snooks and Milton Rahn purchased the business known as H. M. Rahn General Merchandise. The business was purchased on a Saturday and there was no lapse in service, reopening under the new ownership on Monday.

The first advertisements are shown in the accompanying photos. It was the desire of Otto Snooks to provide a meat market that would sell only fresh meats slaughtered at his abattoir located on his farm just outside of Springfield. He purchased some animals at the nearby Springfield Stock Market to supplement those he raised himself.

This was the first store in Springfield to have a refrigerated meat cooler and service meat case. As advertisements show, customers wanted to purchase other items while shopping for their fresh meats, so within a month they expanded their line to include a selection of items found in most basic grocery stores at that time.

Otto’s wife, Mamie Lee, had a special recipe for making a specialty sausage called “Liver Pudding” which was made and sold at the store and was a big hit with the customers. Snooks also offered homemade pork sausage along with the full line of fresh meats.

They also offered custom butchering and packaging for their customers. After a short time, Milton Rahn, sold out to Otto and the store was known as Snooks from then on. The original phone number of Snooks and Rahn was #145. Notice on the 1960s photo that the phone number was then #3295.

During the early years, Tommy Snooks spent a lot of time entertaining himself at his dad’s store. By age 9, Tommy was working part-time and continued in this capacity until graduating from high school in 1965. After a brief time in college, Tommy returned to work at the store full time.

In 1971, Otto Snooks was 62 years old and ready to retire. On Jan. 1, 1972, at the age of 24, Tommy Snooks purchased Snooks Food Store and has been operating it ever since.

Since 1948, the store has remained in the same location. Adjoining properties were purchased and the store was expanded several times. Changes have taken place over the years, but one thing always has remained the same — basic quality products including custom cut meats and friendly efficient service. Although small in size and range of products offered, Snooks continues to be a competitor in the grocery business.

In 1948, Springfield had four major grocery stores and a fifth entered the market soon after. All ceased business over the years, but Snooks Food Store has continued to thrive. Tommy attributes this to offering high quality products, competitive prices and friendly individualized service. Over the years the employees are what have made the store successful.The employees are too numerous to name individually and some have stayed with the store for many long years.

Laws and regulations over abattoirs became such that butchering was no longer feasible, but Snooks continued to remain a force in the meat market by purchasing quality meat for their sales.

As Tommy looks at the future and the past, he said operating the business has been a sacrifice of much of his time and it has been difficult when family events conflicted with work time. On the other hand, the rewards and success have been good.

Snooks Food Store will have been operating for 60 years in January of 2008. What does the future hold for the business at 109 South Laurel Street? Springfield needs this business which is convenient and vital to our community. Many do their shopping in this market where the store is not overwhelming in size offering a basic line of good products.

Thanks to Tommy Snooks for the information provided and to the Springfield Herald Archives on microfilm at Historic Effingham Society. This article was written by Susan Exley. If you have comments, photos or information to share, please call her at 754-6681 or email: