The announcement Monday that the Allen family is selling Allen’s of Hastings and The Wine Cellar to B&R Stores Inc. of Lincoln is a reminder of the family’s legacy in the business communities of Hastings and Grand Island that dates back more than 80 years.
In announcing the sale, Georgene Allen, widow of the late Bob Allen, who died in 2010, said the store has been in operation since the late 1950s. The family has been in longtime discussions with B&R Stores.
Allen said that it was “especially important for us to sell to a successful regional retailer that understands the Hastings community and shares many of our corporate values.”
Allen’s and The Wine Cellar will retain their names after the sale, which is expected to close by Oct. 1.
“Of special importance, we want to communicate our sincere appreciation for the support we have received from our wonderful customers for these many years,” Allen said.
Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores, said his company is “proud to announce the acquisition of longtime Hastings grocer Allen’s and The Wine Cellar.”
“The Allen family has operated in Hastings for 62 years and they have built an outstanding reputation in the community,” Griffin said. “We intend to continue the legacy built by the Allen family by operating the store under their name and adhering to the values they have established over the years.”
A story in The Grand Island Independent in 2002 said the Allen family’s start goes back to 1947 when Bob Allen’s father, M.H. “Ron” Allen, opened Allen’s Self-Service Drug in Grand Island at 306 W. Third St. The store moved to 220 W. Third in 1956.
The family eventually opened stores in North Platte in 1953 and Hastings in 1957, with Bob Allen managing the Hastings store and his brother, Bruce, managing the North Platte location. In 1974, Ron Allen was president of the firm, Bruce Allen was vice president and Bob Allen was secretary-treasurer. All owned stock in each other’s stores. The Grand Island store moved to a former Safeway building at 818 W. Third St. in 1973.
After Ron Allen died in 1975, Bruce Allen took over operating the Grand Island store and Bob Allen had complete control of the Hastings store. The Grand Island store closed in 1985, and the North Platte store had closed prior to that.
Bob Allen was also an instrumental player in the development of the Highway 281 business corridor in Grand Island with Eagle Run that runs along Allen Drive, between Faidley Street and 13th Street along Highway 281. It has been the home for many national retailers, such as Home Depot.
He owned and developed 72 acres that comprised Eagle Run.
In 2002, the Independent published a story saying that Skagway in Grand Island had announced that it was buying Allen’s Shopping Center in Hastings, but the deal later fell through.
George W. Martin opened an O.P. Skaggs store at 417 W. Third St. in 1939 and later changed the name to Skagway. A new Skagway opened in the Five Points area in 1959, and Grand Island’s second Skagway opened on South Locust Street in a former Kmart building. That location is now the corporate headquarters of Bosselman Enterprises.
Skagway was sold to B&R Stores in 2005. Headquartered in Lincoln, B&H is Nebraska’s largest independent grocer. The employee-owned company was founded in 1964 by Russ Raybould. Since then, the business has grown to include four store concepts — Russ’s Market, Super Saver, Save Best Foods and Grand Central Apple Market — located in seven cities across Nebraska and Iowa.
B&H Stores owns the Russ’s Market in Hastings, as well as two Super Saver stores in Grand Island.
Super Saver opened its first store in Grand Island, at Second Street and Broadwell Avenue, in the 1990s.
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