"M.A. Johnson Papers Given to UND
The M.A. Johnson papers were deposited by Manville A. Johnson of Larimore, North Dakota, with the Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection at the University of North Dakota in December 1970. Mr. Johnson began his career as a handyman in the Michigan Mercantile Store in 1907 and through skill and ambition rose to become principal owner and manager of the 14 stores of the Johnson Home Town Stores Company until his retirement. This large collection of records and correspondence accumulated by the donor for 55 years will contribute to the writing of regional, social, and economic history of North Dakota.
A willing worker, M.A. Johnson increased his business skill through determination, attention to customer needs, development of new selling techniques, and knowledge gained from mail order correspondence courses. When the Michigan Mercantile Company opened a branch store in Michigan, North Dakota, in 1910, he was placed in charge. The company was reorganized in 1913 and he was made general manager. After another reorganization in 1929, Johnson and other store personnel purchased most of the interests if outside stockholders and the name of the store was changed to Johnson Stores Incorporated. New branch stores were opened and a chain store system established.
The business grew with the building of a creamery in 1931. A processing plant for poultry was added later. Personal service to patrons, efficient operations, and sound policies helped pull the Company through the Depression and promoted later growth.
A book, Fifty Years of Country Storekeeping, was written by Mr. Johnson in 1955 about his early life and experiences as a merchant in the days when customers bargained for merchandise, butter was sold in crocks, molasses was sold in bulk form, and dried fruit was a staple in every home. He was also featured in Erling G. Rolfsrud's book Extraordinary North Dakotans."
Source: unknown newspaper clipping, likely from the Larimore Pioneer
Fifty Years of Country Storekeeping by M. A. Johnson. 1955.
Special Collections Stacks F636 .J62x
The M.A. Johnson Records date from 1906 to 1966 and have been divided into four series as follows:
Series 1: Johnson Stores Financial Records, 1906-1956
Series 2: Personal and Business Correspondence, 1914-1966
Series 3: Advertising Copies, 1921-1961
Series 4: Photographs