Proprietor Ed Heppenstall stands in the doorway of Heppenstall Grocery, across from Foster Station on the Interurban Electric Railway. The store enjoyed brisk trade in the 1920s and 1930s. COURTESY PHOTO

The history of Heppenstall | Tukwila’s Story

Long before the mall and other retail began to form a shopping mecca along Southcenter Parkway, small stores thrived along the Interurban corridor in the first half of the 20th century.

  • Friday, July 21, 2017 1:03pm
  • Life

By Pat Brodin

Tukwila Historical Society

Long before the mall and other retail began to form a shopping mecca along Southcenter Parkway, small stores thrived along the Interurban corridor in the first half of the 20th century. These businesses were generally at a railway stop or riverboat landing. One such place was Heppenstall Grocery at the corner of Interurban Avenue and 56th Avenue near where the Metro Park and Ride sits today.

Edward Heppenstall went to the Yukon area of Alaska during the gold rush in 1897. After 24 years, he moved from Wiseman, Alaska, to the lower Foster neighborhood, joining his five brothers who lived in the area. With six Heppenstall brothers and their growing families around Foster, they would joke about changing the name to Heppenstallville.

When Heppenstall arrived in 1921, he planned to start a business. He decided to build a grocery store and constructed a two-story, wood-framed building. For the next 16 years, the building was a business and a home for Heppenstall and his family. Members of the family delivered orders to customers who used the 10-party telephone line to request items. The store was well stocked with groceries like flour, sugar, beans and dried peas in 100-pound sacks. Cookies came in large boxes but were displayed on racks and sold in amounts the customer requested. Buckets, coal scuttles and lanterns hung from the ceiling. A kerosene drum and chickenfeed sat in the in the back storage room.

Heppenstall kept his entrepreneurial insights keenly focused through the years. After Prohibition ended in 1933, he built a tavern on the north side of the store and called it the 19th Hole for its proximity to the golf course.

Excerpts for this article come from the book “Tukwila – Community at the Crossroads” by Dr. Kay F. Reinartz. Pat Brodin is past president of the Tukwila Historical Society.

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