William Spink Made His Mark with Customer-Centric Store

A local shop that has truly stood the test of time
Barbara Rose’s Dress Shop, circa 1960

Grocery stores have evolved over the decades from small, very local shops found on nearly every block, in every neighborhood, to supermarkets offering products and services of all kinds. The White Bear area has had many stores come and go over the years. The Getty Store was the first, opening in 1870 to serve those getting off the trains at the White Bear station in what would become downtown White Bear Lake. LeVasseur’s, Hardy’s and Vincent’s were all household names.

On the Mahtomedi side of the lake, one of the most fondly remembered merchants was William Spink. He opened his first store on the east shore of White Bear Lake in 1905. Nearly two decades later, a devastating fire destroyed that building and Spink constructed the brick building on the intersection of Quail Street and Mahtomedi Avenue that still stands today. It was originally built as a Fairway Grocery, operated by Spink and his wife, Rebecca.

The location also served as Mahtomedi’s post office, where Spink was the postmaster. It was from this location that local lore depicts Mr. Spink distributing mail to gangster Baby Face Nelson. When the elder Spink passed away in the summer of 1932, his son Edward (Ned) took over the business.

In more recent years, the structure has been home to several businesses, including an ice cream parlor and the very popular Barbara Rose’s Dress Shop. Today, the structure has been updated and is known as the Ramsay Building.