The Little Red Wagon: Finding its stride
By Kris Leonhardt
Continued from Part I
Eventually, the business outgrew the family’s small apartment and the little red wagon. In 1944, Figi’s moved to the Marshfield Cold Storage building on North Central Avenue and had its first employee.
But, steady growth kept moving the business forward, and in 1951, John Figi resigned from his USDA job to work full time in the business.
Three years later, the Figi’s constructed a 50 foot by 90 foot building at 2525 South Roddis Avenue.
As the Figi business was finding its stride, so was the Figi family. John and Ann Figi were the parents to four active children – daughter, Sara, and sons, Todd, Eric, and Hans – who were introduced to the business at a young age. An endearing time for the family which provides some unique members for the Figi children today.
“One morning, my dad got a call from the police department, and they said that Figi’s had been broken into,” recalled Hans. “So, he took my brother and me down to check it out. Somebody had broken into the back, and I guess cracked into the cash register or something. It was right after Christmas, and we had gotten little cowboy outfits for Christmas. So, we put on our cowboy outfits. I had to be four years old, maybe, and we went with our dad and walked around with our cowboy outfits feeling tough and looking for the burglar.
“Eric, my younger brother, and I used to work for Christmas when we were five and six, and we would help out loading pallets. They would come off the assembly line, and we would put them on pallets.
“I think we were helpful. We did distract some of the ladies. They were so nice. They were sort of like babysitters; they would keep one eye on us as we were running around and loading stuff up. Then we would run into our father’s office at break time and get a nickel for a Sprite and a Payday and watch all of the people playing Sheepshead in the break room. We just kind of had the run of the place. It is kind of nuts, because I don’t think they would allow you do that today (with) the liability.
“It was sort of like being raised by 25 different women who were all working seasonally, who would take us under their wing and keep their eyes on us during those weeks during Christmas when Eric and I would work.”
Next segment: The creation of the catalog