Yes, I was a Denio’s kid

By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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It was a jingle and a slogan in one for the ages, “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid.” For me, I didn’t spend a great deal of time in the famed department store as a youngster. In fact, when it comes to shopping-themed day trips back in the day, I am proud to admit I was pretty much a “Denio’s Farmers Market and Auction Kid.”

While I didn’t reside in Roseville, this city has always been a part of my life in both work and play. This particular issue of The Press Tribune talks a lot about the famed Railyard explosions of 1973, something that took place when I was just 4 years old and don’t remember much about, other than the stories of it through my parents, friends and colleagues.

However, one place I clearly recall visiting as a youngster on many occasions was Denio’s. I know I may be exaggerating but it seemed like my parents packed me in the car and hauled me off to this place almost every week during the hot summer months. In reality, it was probably more than likely a monthly visit. Regardless of the frequency, I have many fond and humorous memories of our visits to this iconic Roseville entity that continues to thrive today.

While you may think this column is going to talk about all the shiny sights and gadgets I desired when we made these family trips, you are wrong. The best memories I have about our visits was the journey there each time and the family experience.

Let’s start with getting there. This was long before GPS was invented and let’s face it, Roseville can be confusing when it comes to traveling to and from either side of the tracks. I clearly remember on several occasions my father getting lost as we tried to locate the main entrance. My mother would be his co-pilot, usually suggesting he stop somewhere for directions, and it always seemed as if railroad cars were in our view at all times so we were relatively close all the time, just not close enough.

So usually, it would be a stop at the gas station market for a refresher on how to get to our destination. I never minded the pit stop as it usually resulted in my getting a soda or candy on the same stop. Eventually, I do remember my parents always having a selection of maps in the glove box for such occasions, probably because they were tired of me getting sugar every time they stopped for directions and having to listen to me all day.

Once we arrived, I remember perusing the farmers’ market section with my parents and it was a sight I still love today. I remember always visiting the vendors that had toys and fun gadgets and of course grabbing a great Jimboy’s Taco, something they still continue to offer right there.

Inevitably, it seems as though my mother and I would always get separated from my father. Now remember, this was long before cell phones so there was two ways to find a lost parent. The first, have them paged over a loudspeaker, which is always quite embarrassing as a kid. The second, walk for miles in the summer heat until you find them. This is where Denio’s had something the family grocery store, the furniture store and others didn’t have. They sold beer. Good old, ice cold beer.

My mom gave me great advice back then as to how I could find my dad each time we got separated at Denio’s. It was simple. As we walked around looking for them, she taught me to look for all the signs that advertise “cold beer sold here.” Guess what, it worked every time and we were happily reunited.

Today, Denio’s continues to offer so many of their age-old traditions, along with new additions such as entertainment and more. It’s heartwarming to see a place that brings you some fun childhood memories continue to thrive in an ever-changing world of retail shopping. I thank the entire Denio family for continuing to operate this great Roseville tradition as they do and encourage you to give them a visit.

Bill Sullivan is the associate publisher of Gold Country Media. He can be reached at