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Donna Greenwalt: The Woman Behind the Wayne City Save A Lot

Rylee Greenwalt, Chieftain Editor

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Living in a small town means everyone knows everyone and everything. Residents of Wayne City more than likely know all their neighbors and other people who drive throughout the town. Locals are known in the restaurants and tend to loaf at the gas station every morning and afternoon. Shopping local is a popular thing to do when living in a small town. The local stores know all of their customers. The owners might even remember their customers’ orders. Focusing on local stores brings me to the topic of this article.

My grandparents Bennie and Donna Greenwalt are a well-known couple in the town of Wayne City. Raising five boys kept my grandma with her hands full. As if she did not have her hands full enough, she decided to open up her own box store. It came to be known as Wayne City Save A Lot. She and my grandpa were in their early 40s. Greenwalt and Sons Construction at the time consisted of my Grandpa Bennie, Uncle Dean Greenwalt, and close family friend, the late Denny Clark; they helped make my grandma’s dreams turn into reality. My grandparents bought the land off of Glen McCormick. My Uncle Bill Dagg had Built-Mor put up a shell so the process of building could take place. My grandma and grandpa’s parents were both involved in the store. My grandma’s dad and mom were DB (Donald Barton) and Clara Mullenix. My grandpa’s mom was Laura, who was known as Ma and Jay McCormick, who was known as Pa Jay. Wayne City residents worked in the store including Kim Dickey, Linda Greenwalt, Sherry Lecrone, and Connie Taylor.

The grand opening was in the early 1980s. Three years after the opening my grandpa installed gas tanks. It closed in 1992 due to the opening of a Save A Lot in McLeansboro and Fairfield areas. The Church of the Harvest bought the building from my grandparents and started their church in it. Church of the Harvest uses this building now for the younger kids in the church. Behind this building, is a lumber yard for Greenwalt and Sons.

Owning a store is hard work and involves daily preparation. My grandma had to take care of produce drop-offs every morning, gave the bread man a key to stock bread shelves, and swept the floor every morning. My grandma was and still is a very friendly lady. She always tells my sisters and I stories of men who helped her carry produce in every day. A few men she mentioned were the late Dale Rutger, Bear Gregory, and Brad Gregory. They would carry vegetables in for her. My grandma said, “Some mornings I felt like their personal counselor, and other mornings it was those men who kept me laughing.” My grandma’s favorite part about owning the store was all the people who came in throughout the day. She exclaimed, “I just like people.” Strengths of the store would be the can goods were only 17 cents. This was very cheap back then compared to other stores. Not having a cash register like the ones we have today was a weakness for the store. My grandma had to memorize every price of each item in the store.

Several years after the store had closed, my dad, Darren Greenwalt, and his brothers invested in building a Phillips 66 in 2003; my family sold Phillips in 2014. Two of my grandma’s employees worked for us in Phillips 66 as well. My grandma told my grandpa and her sons not to give her any ownership of the store; she had had her share of owning a store. She said, “Running the box store was enjoyable, but I also enjoyed spending time with my family.” Donna Greenwalt now has nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Grandma Donna is still a resident in Wayne City; she spends the majority of her time with her grandkids and enjoys baking cookies. She attends several Wayne City sporting events.  Stop by at a game and have a chat with her. She might even promise you a batch of cookies!

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Donna Greenwalt: The Woman Behind the Wayne City Save A Lot