Gil's Store is now in the 3rd generation of Quarfot family

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 9/22/98.

The small mom and pop grocery store (Gils) that has been serving the Hawick community since 1938, stays in the family through another generation.

On Oct. 1, Reed Quarfot, the grandson of the original owners, Gil and Betty Quarfot, will take over the store from Harold Paulson, 85, who has moved to Paynesville.

Reed served eight years in the Air Force and has worked two years in Alaska and eight years with Schwans Ice Cream out of St. Paul. He has been back in the Paynesville area a couple of months and started working at the store in June. I like the idea of working for myself and Im enjoying the slower pace of Hawick over St. Paul, Reed said.

The building dates back to the turn of the century, Bill Quarfot, Reeds father, said. Harold and Katie have taken good care of the store and it should last a long time.

Bill Quarfot said his dad (Gil) traded his farm at Marine on the St. Croix for the hardware store with Gus Peterson in June of 1938. When they arrived at the store, all they found was 50 cents in the cash drawer, he said. They wondered at first if they had made the right decision.

After making only a nickle or a penny a day in the hardware store, they gradually switched to groceries and phased out the hardware portion by 1940, Bill Quarfot said.

After the death of Gil and Betty Quarfot, their children: Bill, Tom and Mary, ran the store along with Harold and Katie Paulson, their aunt and uncle. Katie Paulson had been working with her sister in the store since 1942.

Since coming to Hawick in 1938, the family has lived above the store spending most of their time working downstairs waiting on customers. Reed now lives in that upstairs apartment.

The Paulsons remodeled the store, moving the Hawick Post Office out of the main store into its own area adjacent to the store. Paulson said the original store was only about 24 feet wide.

Harold Paulson recalls tearing down the building next door (to the east) which used to house the Hawick State Bank in the early 1920s and later was a bar. At one time, Katie had a restaurant in the building.

Harold Paulson said he moved to rural Hawick in 1927 at the age of 14. We used to bring our eggs and cream to town and purchase our coal in town. Just about everything you needed could be purchased in Hawick, he added.

Harold Paulson is the former Kandiyohi County assessor and cabinet maker. His wife Katie died last spring. He recalls seeing a lot of things changing in Hawick over the years. The store provided us with a good living. It has been a lot of work, but it was all worth it.

Harold Paulson recalls the dinky train which brought the mail to Hawick. Besides the mail it also brought people seeking help from the faith healer (Mrs. Ed Oliver) who lived in Hawick.

People would arrive early in the morning and return to their homes in the evening on the last train through town, he said. The faith healer lived on the west corner of town. She was quite a woman. She brought a lot of people to town, especially on Good Friday. She never charged people, they just left donations in the bucket by the door.

According to stories, she left town and moved to Howard Lake because business was too good here. We saw cars from all over the country in front of her house while she lived in Hawick, Bill Quarfot said.

Bill Quarfot, a UPS driver, said he still encounters people on his route that recall visiting the faith healer in Hawick.

The property owned by the faith healer was sold to Koronis Mills Turkey Farms and was the first large turkey barn in the area. We thought that it was the biggest barn on earth when it was built, Harold Paulson said. By todays standards, it is small in comparison.
Among the early stories of Hawick is how a woman chased away Indians from Hawick with a broom in the 1800s. There are also stories of pioneers and railroad workers being buried in the town cemetery.

For many years the Paulsons hosted the Community Christmas Party. This year will mark the 55th year of the party. The party is always held on the first Saturday of December.

Gils Store will be open six days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and be closed on Sundays.

The Community Post Office will remain in the store where Reed Quarfot will still handle the sale of stamps and process money orders.

The Post Office Department had talked about closing the store after Katies death, but the people in the area stressed the need for continued service and they decided to keep it open, Paulson said.

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