Dale’s celebrates 60 years in Hillsboro

From left, Darren Franz and dad Dale grilled hot dogs and Dale's Sausage for the community event they hosted on Friday to celebrate the store's 60 years. Laura Fowler Paulus/Free PressDales Supermarket hit a big milestone this year as they celebrate 60 years of serving the Hillsboro community.

To celebrate, they hosted a come and go event on Friday, June 7 at the store. Current owner, Dale Franz, and others grilled hot dogs and the famous Dale’s sausage for guests in a picnic area they had set up outside. There were also freebies and prizes, and more treats inside.

“We had a good turnout. We had probably over 500 people come out,” said Darren Franz.

The whole Franz family, Dale and wife Melanie and sons Darren and Ryan were on hand to serve guests and visit with them which is basically what they do everyday of the week except when the store is closed on Sundays.

In fact, the store has always been family run. Dale’s dad started the store originally.

“My dad Ray Franz knew in high school or college that he wanted to go into the grocery store business so he bought a grocery store that was first in the building down where the Mexican Restaurant is.Then people told him he needed to increase the size of it and that he needed a partner to do. So in 1959, he and his partner Paul Ediger, opened the store where it is now,” said Dale Franz.

When Dale graduated from Emporia State University with a degree in accounting in 1983, he decided to return to the store he had worked at growing up and during weekends and some summers in college and work for Ray and Paul. Six months later, Paul sold his share of the store to Ray and the store became Ray’s Thriftway.

In 1998, Ray decided he needed to retire and sell the store to Dale and Melanie who took over the store completely in 1999.

Over the years, many grocery stores have come and gone, but Dale’s Supermarket is the only one that has lasted. At one time, there were four stores in addition to Dale’s but all closed down while Dale’s carried on.

“The meat department, with the sausage especially, makes a big difference,” said Dale about why they have survived so long.

The line was long for Dale's sausage. People of all ages came out to help the store celebrate their milestone of 60 weeks.He also credits the deliveries of groceries they do especially for nursing home residents.

While Dale’s plans to continue the tradition of ordering specialty items people need, helping out church groups when the store is closed and an item is desperately needed and other examples of excellent customer service, they do have some big changes planned.

A few years ago, Dale and Melanie leased what used to be the Heartland Foods building out by the liquor store. The plan is to eventually move the store out to that location. It will be at least several months or longer before it happens though due to finances.

“Our distributer recently changed and we are still figuring things out with this new warehouse. They are geared more and more for the big stores and not for the smaller stores so we are figuring it all out,” said Dale. “And people don’t realize there is nothing out there in that building at all. It will take about 2 million dollars probably to get it all set up. So just the cost of everything is a lot.”

Another change is that eventually son Darren plans to take over the store when Dale retires.

Dale’s main concern has always been serving the community and he credits the community with the success the store has had all these years.

In fact, in true Dales style, at the anniversary celebration on Friday, the Franz family had a basket for donations for the Cox family who had lost their son to an unexpected and unexplained death just hours earlier. It seemed to sum up Dale’s Supermarket and their focus on the community perfectly.

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