Watt’s Ranch Market celebrates 65 years

Bobby Gutierrez Photo

MEEKER | Back in 1955, Meeker was a pretty self-sufficient community, home to multiple drug stores, clothing stores, and several grocery stores. That was the year Tom Watt opened Watt’s Ranch Market, and for 65 years this year, the Watt family has owned and operated what is now Meeker’s only grocery store.

A clipping from the Meeker Herald, 1955.

A tiny notice in the Meeker Herald, circa 1955, reads: “Tom Watt has closed a deal for the purchase of the Thomas Scott property on the former of Fifth and Market which has been owned by Mrs. Blanche Rae. The real estate deal takes in the residence property and the store on the corner. Mr. Watt has bought out Wilton Warton’s interest in the store and took over operation of this Meeker business the first of April. The Watt family expect to move back to Meeker to make their home about the 1st of June.”

Tom and Liz Watt originally moved to Meeker in 1942. Tom had been working for the Civilian Conservations Corps — part of the “New Deal” government program to lift America out of the Depression. He bought and owned Baer White River Creamery from 1946-1952. The family moved to Norwood, and then to Delta, before returning to Meeker.

Not long after that initial announcement in the paper, the Herald announced new construction coming to that Fifth and Market street location.

Not long after the initial announcement in the paper, the Herald announced new construction.

“Tom Watt has a store at this corner, but it is pretty small with undandy storage facilities. He decided he was going into the grocery business on a larger scale so is enlarging his store at this site. He is making his new building approximately 40×60. It will be a modern grocery store with the same quality service tthat he has offered in the past.”

The store at Fifth and Market (where Blue Spruce Inn, also owned by the Watt family, now stands) housed Meeker’s downtown grocery store for the next 50 years.

From the Herald Times, 2005: Owner JC Watt converses with customer Herb Hughley at the store’s grand opening at 271 Market St.

In 2004, after Valley Grocery closed, the Watts purchased the building and property at 271 E. Market St. During the next year they remodeled, and expanded their product line, services and parking area. The new location opened in March 2005, with a grand opening in April.

Today, the store is in its third generation of family ownership. Tom Watt managed the store until 1969, when his son Harry took over. Harry’s son J.C. and his wife Alicia have managed the store since 1997.

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com