Mocsulski brothers built a relationship with Mitchell's Harvest Foods customers
Of Cabbages and Kings
Robin Rickert learned how to work in a grocery store at a young age.
Once upon a time, about 35 years ago, Mitchell’s Harvest Foods in Cheney was a little grocery store owned by the Ribas brothers. About that time, two brothers, Mitchell and Ron Moczulski, were on their way here from their home in Ohio, looking around for a grocery store to buy. The two Moczulski brothers found the Ribas brothers’ store, bought it and promptly called it Country Counter. Robin Rickert, the daughter in Mitchell’s family, commented on her father’s ability to work so hard, “My dad has been in business all his life.”
Mitchell Moczulski taught each of his children to work in the store as soon as they were 16 years old. The store began to take on some color and enthusiasm. Customers soon became their friends.
Then the family changed the store’s name again to Mitchell’s IGA. The change was fine with the customers. In fact, the new name really caught on. When the Moczulskis surprised them by saying that we are now Mitchell’s Harvest Foods, the customers still called the store Mitchell’s IGA.
Even now, as the clock keeps ticking toward the future, some still say, “I’m going to the IGA for some bread and milk.” Or, “Bradley, honey, run over to the IGA and get some of those apples. We’ll have pie for dinner tonight.” Mitchell’s Harvest Foods apparently has a special private name only the customers know.
One morning a few years ago, at 6 a.m., before the sun peaked over the hills, Robin and Lesly, her pal at work, approached the store. They were to open up for the day.
In front of them was the completely smashed window of the front door. Somebody had broken into the store. Was he still there? Robin said, “Lesly was more frightened than I. My concern was the store. It was our life.”
The girls tiptoed past the broken glass, called the police and began a careful trip through the store. Lesly grabbed a wine bottle and held it high: a young lady’s weapon for “just in case.”
Robin looked for somebody hiding in the shadows. But all they found were the cigarette shelves stripped bare. The policeman on duty came quickly. He was astonished, “You went inside the store?” Guess those girls were tougher than he thought. Robin said, “We can laugh now, but it wasn’t funny then.”
Robin enjoys another chuckle. Confused customers often think Robin and Kathy, who has been with the store for more than 10 years, are sisters. They call Robin “Kathy,” and Kathy “Robin.” Robin said, “I used to try to help them get it right. I gave up. Now when they call me Kathy I just say, “Hi, good to see you.”
Robin and her husband, Gordy Rickert (whom she met at the store), have two grown sons. Nick, at 25, works in the oil fields in North Dakota but returns home to Cheney. Nick’s son Ayden is Robin’s first grandson. Her other son Mike is now 22 and models occasionally. He lives in Miami, Fla. One of these days he will be a personal trainer. Both of these young men have worked at Mitchell’s store in the past.
Robin said, “I like Cheney, I especially enjoy the customers and working at the store my family built.”
See you at the IGA folks—oops, I mean Mitchell’s Harvest Foods.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at email@example.com.