Every morning, without fail, Jim Ghormley opens the KG Grocery in Nampa at 5.
If youre not 10 minutes early, youre 10 minutes late, he said.
He and his wife, Kathy, are among the Valleys last mom and pop grocers. For 35 years theyve been selling staples, coffee, cigarettes, gasoline and bacon, developing a following on the corner of Greenhurst Road and Southside Boulevard.
No one knows for sure how many neighborhood markets there used to be in the Valley, but way back in the 1920s, there were around 60 in Boise alone including the Greenhouse, the Lowell and the Crescent.
Ghosts of old markets are still visible: Fords Market on 10th and Main in Boise is now Zen Bento. A storefront on 10th Street in the North End is home to a dancestudio. A former grocery on Rose Hill is a store for precious metals.
The Hollywood Market on 8th Street, which closed in 2011 after the death of longtime proprietor Margaret Lawrence, is being transformed into a yoga studio.
Neighborhood markets fell victim to a car culture that, over the past century, increased the distances between the places that people live, work and shop, said Dan Everhart of Preservation Idaho.
But the markets that still exist are vital parts of their communities, and neighbors often support them as a personal cause.
When we moved here in 77, Roosevelt Market was rundown and struggling, said East End resident Bob Sutter. Now the Boise market brings the neighborhood together.
You can buy things at Albertsons or WinCo, but if you go to the Roosevelt, you see people and find out whats happening in the neighborhood, Sutter said.
A customer built the Roosevelts wine racks out of old barn wood. Another customer maintains the Facebook page.
Co-owner Nicki Monroe said she even gets inquiries from neighborhood children who want to make sure the market is doing OK. After a couple shoplifting instances, the school resource officer at Roosevelt Elementary across the street had a talk with the entire student body.
He told them that if they liked the Roosevelt and wanted it to be there, they had to care for it, said Monroe.
At the Roosevelt, you can buy a single stick of butter. A kid can buy a single gummy bear for a penny, or 27 for a quarter. Monroe bags them up herself.
Not too far across town, Jerrys 27th Street Market is in the midst of a remodel. Chicago native Jerry Fandel has run the business for seven years. It serves a diverse neighborhood thats home to the Islamic Center of Boise and many refugee families.
It will remain a spot where neighbors can buy their groceries, but Fandel is adding a seating area and expanding his menu.
The offerings will be as diverse as the neighborhood: Chicago deep dish pizza, and Indian and German food with a few special touches, said Fandel.
A NAMPA FAMILY TRADITION
The KG Grocery building was constructed in 1947.
Same year my wife Kathy was born, said Jim Ghormley.
He was a teacher and coach in the Kuna School District for nearly four decades. All the years he was teaching, he also worked at the market.
The Ghormleys bought the building in 1976 with earnest money from Kathys dad Jim is quick to say they promptly repaid him. The KG, named for Kathy Ghormley, has been a family business ever since.
Among the employees there have been their children, grandchildren, niece, nephew and Kathys sister not to mention about 35 of Jims former students. Family photos, drawings by grandchildren, and high school photos of Jim in a lettermans jacket and Kathy in a bouffant and red lipstick decorate the walls.
The Ghormleys have had to weather competition from the Walmart down the road and a Chevron station that was built across the street 11 years ago.
The KG does not have as many gas pumps as the Chevron, but it does rent out large frozen-food lockers. The KG gets fresh shipments of bacon twice a week from a local butcher. The Ghormleys wrap it into crisp, white paper.
We make sure its sliced thick and extra lean, said Jim Ghormley.
Hes a small-statured man who moves fast hinting at his past as an All-American wrestler. As customers come through the doorway, he greets many by name. He greets those he doesnt know the minority as sir or maam.
That includes a young man who comes for a bottle of water. He tells Ghormley to keep the change.
Thats the kind of customers I have, said Ghormley.
Generosity works both ways. He sometimes lets kids borrow movies for free no rental.
Ghormley doesnt work for the green, he said. He and Kathy could retire if they wanted to.
But Im not the type to sit around, he said. Besides, he believes that keeping the grocery going is a service to the community.
The store makes a modest profit. Its open every day of the year except Thanksgiving. Ghormley is even behind the register on Christmas Day hes had grandchildren call, reminding him theyre home, waiting to open their presents.
On a Wednesday morning, theres a steady stream of customers. A woman isnt sure shell like the flavor of coffee Ghormleys brewing. He lets her take a taste before she commits. Another woman buys coffee and a banana before rushing out the door
This is the best place. I come here every day, she called over her shoulder.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Nicki Monroe has co-owned the Roosevelt with Susan Wilder for nine years. Monroe grew up in the neighborhood. Both women retired from hospice and home care to run the market. In some ways, Monroes former career prepared her for the Roosevelt. Its not uncommon for patrons to just talk and get some ad hoc therapy.
Were kind of the Cheers of markets, she said.
Like the Ghormleys, Monroe and Wilder know their customers. They started opening at 6 a.m. to accommodate a group of coffee drinkers from the neighborhood.
They come here to solve the worlds problems, said Monroe.
When she and Wilder were figuring out what to stock on the shelves, they asked customers what they wanted. The tiny kitchen produces baked goods daily, along with soup, sandwiches and potato salad made from Monroes family recipe.
The day takes a predictable shape. Monroe warns adults to stay away from the store on weekdays right after school.
Thats the sugar rush, she said, when kids from Roosevelt Elementary queue up to buy candy.
The market took a hit when Roosevelt was closed for a year of renovations. The neighborhood kept us afloat, said Monroe. Some people told me they came to buy items they didnt need, just to help out.
Theres a final rush at 8:40 p.m., when people dart in for a loaf of bread or bottle of wine. The store closes at 9.
Paula Benson is a regular.
The Roosevelt is six minutes from my sisters house by foot, 12 minutes from mine, said Benson.
They walk their dogs to the market on the weekends and have breakfast on the small patio.
Everyone seems to know each other there, said Benson. But its also an easy place for a stranger to join a conversation and feel welcome, she said.
Anna Webb: 377-6431