Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Goldfines Trading Post Duluth

As possibly the last surviving employee of Goldfine's Trading Post, I have created this blog, as a tribute to Monty "Easy Mark" Goldfine and Erwin "Soft Touch" Goldfine. I felt somehow there should be a memory established for this fine family business.

It was October 1951 and I was a senior at Denfeld High School when I applied for a job at Goldfine's Trading Post. The founder, Abe Goldfine had died about a year before and his widow, Fanny, and his sons Erwin and Monty had taken over. Monty, the younger son joined the business shortly after he finished college. He was 23 when I started working with him. I say "working with" rather than "working for", as that is how it was. I was employed as a truck driver, driving one of the 7 trucks, until I finished college and then about a year later worked in the office for about six months.

The business was housed in an old 4 story frame building which most emploees felt was a fire waiting to happen. They sold groceries, hardware, clothing, furniture, feed, farm machinery and also traded items for cattle, lumber, hay and used farm machinery.

It was a genuine family business and the employees were very much an extended family who were cared for with patience and love. Monty and Erv would be downstairs when it was closing time and would talk to the employees. They would say "Francis, how were things in the clothing department?" "Harry, everything okay in the hardware department? Did you get the new arrivals into inventory? If it gets busy tomorrow, I will get you some help". "Al, is that truck working okay now? How are the tires?" They made us all feel like we were part of the family.

One Saturday morning when I came to work I asked Monty if I could be done by 5pm, as it was the Senior Prom. He said "Yes". Later in the day, he asked me to drive him downtown as he had ordered a new Pontiac. When we arrived there, he handed me the keys to drive the new car back to the store. When I arrived back to his office I put the keys on his desk. He immediately gave them back to me and said "You are going to the Prom tonight...take the car".

They established Goldfine furniture stores in Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Virginia, Green Bay WI and also established Harbor Furniture in downtown Duluth. They also operated a farm in Northeast Duluth.

Each year at Christmas time the family put on a employee dinner party in the Covenant Club which was operated by the Jewish Community. They always included a gift exchange and entertainment.

The employees never complained about the family. If there was a problem, the employees always would go to the manager and talk it over.

One time I went to work about noon and they had a truck full of furniture to deliver. They had a helper for me and the helper had all the delivery tickets. He told me we were going to Grand Marais. We drove for about an hour and then stopped in Beaver Bay for coffee. I asked the helper for the tickets so we could arrange our deliveries. It was at that time I noticed the deliveries were for Grand Rapids, not Grand Marais. So, we drove to Duluth and onto Grand Rapids. Monty had seen us drive through Duluth about 2 hours after we had left and asked about it. I said "Don't ask". He laughed and knew I had a good reason...never heard anymore about it.

The family and the employees trusted each other and no employee would consider hurting the business and the employees always trusted the family to stand behind them.

Monty had the philosophy "That as long as we have to work here each day, lets make it as enjoyable as we can and have fun".

That generation of the "Goldfine's Trading Post" family is gone now and I am glad to have been a part of it and will always cherish the fond memories as long as I am on this earth.

Goodbye Fanny, Monty and Erwin...you were loved.

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