SDRA History

SDRA Centennial Magazine - January, 1997

(publication is 30 pages | PDF format | may take several minutes to load)

It all started with a few letters.

In the summer of 1896, a number of South Dakota business owners began corresponding with each other. They wrote letters to each other, as well as to editorial columns in newspapers. They felt, as one wrote, that there was "a profound and just discontent with existing conditions, coupled with the desire to change and better the same."

As a result of those letters, when the spring of 1897 rolled around, an Alpena business owner decided it was time for the retail business people of South Dakota to begin doing some serious thinking about establishing a permanent organization to represent their interests.

C.C. Issenhuth called together a handful of his colleagues from across the northeastern part of the state to take the preliminary steps toward forming an association. Those nine men met at the Spink County Courthouse in Redfield on May 18, 1897. That was the beginning. Within a few months, the South Dakota Retail Merchants Association was off and running. 

1897 First Page Of SDRA Record BookTHE NINE FOUNDERS

T.E. Doyon, Grocer, Redfield

Michael Gorman of Cross & Gorman, Dealers in General Merchandise, Wilmot

C.C. Issenhuth, Dealer in General Merchandise, Alpena

Emil Johnson of Erlandson & Johnson, Dealers in General Merchandise, Milbank

August Mittelstaedt, Dealer in General Merchandise, Milbank

August Nottmeyer of Nottmeyer & Miller, Dealers in General Merchandise, Redfield

C.C. Peterson, of Jonathan Peterson, Dealer in General Merchandise, Newark

R.S. Vessey of Albert & Vessey, Dealers in General Merchandise, Wessington Springs (later served as Governor of South Dakota from 1909-1913)

G.A. Wood of Wood Brothers Hardware, Implement & Lumber Dealers, Milbank

Photo: Spink County CourthouseA CALL IS ISSUED

The nine founders who met in Redfield on May 18, 1897 decided to take the first steps toward a goal they had been discussing for a year: to establish a permanent association for retailers in the state. They decided to call a general convention.

Eighty-five business owners gathered at the Spink County Courthouse in Redfield a month-and-a-half later to draft a constitution and bylaws for the fledgling organization. G.A. Wood of Wood Brothers Hardware, Implement and Lumber Dealers in Milbank was unanimously elected the first president of the South Dakota Retail Merchants Association. D.D. Gross of Yankton was named vice-president.

An Executive Committee was also elected: L.G. Ochsenreiter of Webster, H.R. Bartlett of Groton, S.N. Brown of Clark, R.S. Vessey of Wessington Springs, and C.C. Peterson of Newark. Peterson was named Secretary.


The 85 charter members who gathered in Redfield on July 7, 1897 agreed that their aim was to "improve and increase the business now being done by the merchants of South Dakota; this to be accomplished by adopting such new and improved methods as will accomplish this result... By adopting these methods, we feel confident that we can make it of advantage to the purchasing public of the state not to give its patronage to concerns in distant states, but to bestow it upon local dealers, whose interests are identical with their own.

The group was also in agreement that there was a need to lobby the Legislature on behalf of business interests.

Secretary C.C. Peterson was authorized to provide himself with suitable stationery and books for the use of the Association. He was directed to make a personal canvas of the State in the interest of the Association, for which he was to be paid a salary of $50 plus expenses.

Dues were set at $3 a year. Membership was not allowed to catalog houses or anyone doing business with catalog houses. They were confident that organization would force the majority of catalog houses out of the business world for good.

Photo: Grand Opera House in HuronFIRST CONVENTION

A year after its inception, the fledgling organization held its first Annual Meeting at the Grand Opera House in Huron. Fifty-eight people registered for the two-day session.

The program included presentations on:

  • "The Business Man"
  • "Application of Sound Business Principles to Retail Merchandising"
  • "The Value of Order, Display and Advertising"
  • "The Cash System"
  • "Credit Methods" (including a debate on the pros and cons on the matter of credit)

And there was considerable "general discussion on the question of combating the catalogue houses."

Photo: First South Dakota State CapitolFIRST LEGISLATIVE SESSION

In 1899, the Retail Merchants Association lobbied the Legislature for the first time (in the first state Capitol Building).

That year, the organization sought a more effective law relating to druggists and doctors, an effective garnishment law, a decrease in the matter of exemptions, a pure food law, changes in the law affecting chattel mortgages, a law against fraudulent advertising, and a decrease in the interest rates to 10 percent.

W.J. Healey, a hardware dealer from Mitchell, had been hired as the Associaton's secretary in 1898, at a salary of $30 per month. He served as the first lobbyist.

The first year's legislative efforts saw only one success: passage of the Pure Food Law.

Board President Harvey J. Rice of Huron called it a good beginning. In June of 1899, at the second Annual Meeting, he stated, "Our Association is still in its infancy and we should not be discouraged if great ends are not attained at once. It is by slow earnest labor, overcoming disappointments, still pushing ahead, clinging to what we gain, that all goals are finally reached."

Photo: SDRA First Newsletter 1899FIRST OFFICE

In May of 1899, the Executive Board authorized Secretary W.J. Healey to pay $5 per month for room in the First National Block in Mitchell, to be used as headquarters for the Association.


The first Association newsletter was published in November of 1899. It is now archived at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. Click on the cover of the newsletter at right to pull up a PDF version of the first newsletter.

More of our earliest publications and documents can be found at this link:

Newsletters from the 1920s to the 1970s can be found at this link:


The nine founders of this Association had incredible vision - but they probably could not have imagined that, more than 100 years later, their fledgling organization would be the largest South Dakota business organization, still strong, still fighting for retailers, and a model for other retail groups on a national level.

The organization that was started by a small, hopeful group of business people in 1897 has fulfilled all of their expectations, and more.


Name Term Business City
C.C. Peterson May-July 1897 Jonathan Peterson, Dealer in General Merchandise Newark
G.A. Wood July 1897-June 1898 G.A. Wood of Wood Brothers Hardware, Implement & Lumber Dealers Milbank
Harvey J. Rice 1898-1903 Rice & Whorton, General Merchandise Huron
P.F. Wickhem 1903   Alexandria
A.F. Grimm 1904-1909 A.F. Grimm Co., general merchandise Parkston
D.H. Loftus 1909-1911 General merchandise DeSmet
J.T. Hansen 1911-1913   Canton
W.L. Ware 1913-1916 McGaan, Baarsch & Ware Co. Clark
J. Ray Cole 1916-1918 Redfield Mercantile Co. Redfield
Otto Baarsch 1918-1921 McGaan, Baarsch & Ware Co. Clark
Lars J. Fiksdal 1921-1923 Lars J. Fiksdal Co. Webster
A.S. Fischer 1923-1925 Fischer Brothers Ft. Pierre
John C. Hammer 1925-1926   Volga
Frank H. Hughes 1926-1928 Food Supply Co. Rapid City
F.C. Ackley 1928-1930 Olwin Angell Co. Aberdeen
Web Hill 1930-1933 Bull Hill Dry Goods Co. Rapid City
Henry G. Schwartz 1933 The Schwartz Co. Redfield
Herman A. Plate 1933-1934 Co-op Mercantile Co. Cresbard
Paul Galloway 1935-1937 Galloway's Madison
Arthur Svenby 1937-1939 Golden Rule Department Store Lemmon
Frank E. Hilts 1939-1941 Grocer Pierre
Frank West 1941-1944 Grocer Sioux Falls
Ray Blauret 1944-1946   Brookings
Wesley Kieffe 1947-1948 Grocer Kyle
Ed Kehmeier 1948-1950 New Hollywood Shop Pierre
B.A. Thomas 1950-1952 Thomas Food Market Sioux Falls
Glen Rhodes 1952-1957   Presho
Jack J. Verschoor 1957-1959   Mitchell
Carl Fischer 1959-1961   Ft. Pierre
Tom Abourezk 1961-1963 Abourezk's Store Mission
Irving Heggestad 1963-1965   Witten
Archie Patzer 1965-1966 Gambles Watertown
C.M. Galloway 1966-1968 Galloway's Department Store Madison
John Bonde 1968-1970 Bonde's V Store Flandreau
John Trumble 1970-1973 Jack's Trading Post Allen
Ep Sieler 1973-1975 Jones Drug Gettysburg
Leighton Gemar 1975-1977 Gemar's Market Scotland
Don Carlson 1977-1979 Diamond Shoes Yankton
Hal Bisch 1981-1982 Sears Huron
Helen Rasmussen 1982-1983 (1st Woman President) DeHaan's Market Platte
Chuck Chilson 1983-1984 Elevator Store Webster
Lynn Feist 1984-1985 Lynn's, Inc. Lemmon
George Welder 1985 Sears Sioux Falls
Chuck Parks 1985-1987 Chuck's Jack & Jill Madison
Howard Owens 1987-1988 Owen's Interstate Sales Spearfish
Bob McCardle July 1988-Feb. 1989 (passed away while in office) Randall's Mitchell
Roy Nyberg April - September 1989 Ace Hardware Sioux Falls
Jill Bartlett 1989-1990 Hollywood Shop Pierre
Ken Fiedler 1990-1991 Ken's Super Fair Foods Aberdeen
Terry Casey 1991-1992 Casey Drug & Jewelry Chamberlain
Dick Beverley 1993 Sears Sioux Falls
John Clarke 1994 County Fair Foods Mitchell
Gary Brown 1995 Town N Country Inn Rapid City
Clark Sinclair 1996 Montgomer's Furniture Madison & Sioux Falls
Elmer Karl 1997 Karl's TV & Appliance Gregory
Steve Hauff 1998 Dakota Sports Sioux Falls
Roger Feickert 1999 Midstates Printing Aberdeen
Doug Van Zee 2000 Canton Food Center Canton
Brad Drake 2001 Connecting Point Computer Centers Watertown
Kent Baker 2002 Sears Rapid City
Phil Lampert 2003 Custer State Park Resort Co. Custer
Bill Brunick 2004 Brunick Furniture Vermillion
Jerry Scriver 2005 Millstone Family Restaurant Rapid City
Terry Wilts 2006 Oreck Floor Care Center Sioux Falls
Tom Morrison 2007 JC Penney Rapid City
Tom Roberts 2008 State Publishing Company Pierre
John Meyer 2009 Office Products Center Winner
Mike Cole 2010 Lewis Drug Sioux Falls
Jeff Jackson 2011 Wrangler Inn Mobridge
Bill Anderson 2012 Anderson Furniture Huron
James Siemens 2013 Hy-Vee Sioux Falls
DeLon Mork 2014 Dairy Queen Madison
Dan Tribby 2015 and 2016 Prairie Edge Rapid City
Gary Cammack 2017 and 2018 Cammack Ranch Supply Union Center
Terry Van De Walle 2019 WR Hospitality Sioux Falls


Name Term City
C.C. Peterson 1897-1898 Newark
W.J. Healy 1898-1902 Mitchell
Edward J. Mannix 1902-1904 Sioux Falls
L.S. Tyler 1904-1909 Salem
Nathan S. Tyler 1909-1918 (Son of L.S. Tyler) Redfield
Elmer U. Berdahl 1918-1925 (First full-time executive for SDRA) Humboldt
Harry L. Kyes 1925-1929 Huron
W.C. Botkin 1929-1939  
Richard M. Pease 1939-1945 Huron
George W. Chitty 1945-1947 Huron
Chris Dam 1947-1949 Huron
Irvin L. Adams 1949-1951 Colome
Donald A. Caldwell 1951-1966 Sioux Falls
Ken Balgeman 1966-1978 (Title changed to Executive Vice President and office moved to Pierre) Pierre
Steve Boyer 1978-1980 Pierre
Dean Randall 1980-1988 (Title changed to Executive Director) Pierre
Rex Hammond 1988-1989 Pierre
Jerry Wheeler 1990-2006 (Purchased land, constructed association building) Pierre
Shawn Lyons 2006-2018 Pierre
Nathan Sanderson 2018- Pierre