Kirwen’s Supermarket celebrating 100 years of family business

GIBSONBURG – Starting today, the grocery store started by Raymond Paul Kirwen is celebrating its beginnings back in 1922.

Kirwen’s Supermarket, 104 W. Madison St., has gone through changes in its century of existence, including several moves and expansions, according to Raymond Paul’s three grandchildren, Brenda Norton and her brothers Bill and Andy Kirwen, who now run the village grocery.

“His family were general store merchants in Helena,” Brenda said of her grandfather’s business background. From Helena, Raymond Paul struck out on his own and opened a store in Gibsonburg shortly after World War I during the Roaring Twenties.

Kirwen’s opened shortly after World War I.

The family said Raymond Paul thought Gibsonburg was a progressive community at the time.

Two of Raymond’s sons – Raymond Bud and Donald Edward – joined the business after World War II. But the Kirwens were a large family and the founder’s daughters also put time in working and growing the store, which is now a long-time staple in Gibsonburg.

The current owners said their aunts all had a big part in Kirwen’s in the past: Carol Holcomb, Peggy Wonderly, Rita Brown, Mary Herman and Nancy Kirwen.

Brenda, Andy and Bill became involved with the operation of Kirwen’s with their father, Don.

“Many of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren have worked here,” Brenda said.

Kirwen's Supermarket at 104 W. Madison St., in Gibsonburg, has grown over the decades and now fills most of a downtown block.

After Don Kirwen died in 2008, the three siblings took over the store.

Andy and Brenda pointed out that they have numerous siblings who went their own ways.

“We were the lucky ones,” Andy pointed out. “We all decided to stay in the family business.”

“I enjoy it,” he added. “I love the people and the community.”

At Kirwen’s, Andy said he has seen the same customers he has waited on for years.

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