Family MattersWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Walt Churchill continues his family’s third-generation grocery business that began in Toledo more than 90 years ago with his grandfather Joseph.
“We have a long history in Toledo, and every family business has a history with stories to tell,” Walt said.
After growing up on the family farm, brothers Joseph and James Churchill opened their first grocery store at Detroit and Woodruff in 1917. The store was moved to Fernwood and Forest, and later to Upton near Monroe Street in 1933.
At one time, the family chain had as many as six stores in the Toledo area.
His father, Maj. Gen. Walter Churchill, joined the Marines at age 19 and served for 41 years. He became involved in the family’s grocery business during that period and died at age 95.
The family opened Churchill’s Market on Central Avenue in 1947, which is still in operation at that location. That store is owned by his father’s trust and operated separately from Walt Churchill’s Market in Maumee.
The Maumee store opened in 2003, but soon closed. Walt purchased the store from the family trust and reopened it in 2005 as Walt Churchill’s Market. Today, it employees about 50 people, he said.
“My father had a saying about needing to find a good melon patch in order to pick out a good melon,” Walt said. “We try to be the store that’s the good melon patch.
“We’re a complete grocery store that’s easy to shop for putting a good meal on the table at home. Our target customer is someone with a high priority for food.”
His market offers a wide selection of food products that includes homemade salads, soups, pizza and four different grades of meats from U.S. Choice to Niman Ranch’s naturally grown beef.
Chef Bill Kolhoff, who formerly operated Tiffinanny’s restaurant in the Colony, prepares gourmet meals to sell at the Maumee market.
Scott Reddish, manager of the Maumee store, has a history with the family business. He joined Churchill’s in 1967 and served for all but five years when he returned to manage the Maumee store in 2005 at Walt’s personal request.
“We want to build good customer relationships that create word of mouth advertising. That brings people in, but satisfaction in the store brings them back,” Walt said. “It’s why we focus on personal service for every customer.”
Walt is a native of Toledo who graduated from DeVilbiss High School and UT before serving in the Marines for 30 years.
He also operated Walt Churchill’s Adventure Shops in Toledo. His son, Walt Churchill III, was lost in an accident while exploring Peru in 1973. Today, Walt still enjoys boating and water and snow skiing when he’s not working at the Maumee market.