Rex’s Market was a much-appreciated, true “mom & pop” supermarket in west Redding, just past Benton Airpark on Placer. It was totally old school, and run by husband and wife owners Rex and Laura Harris until the late 80’s. For those of us who grew up west of town, our moms usually stopped by Rex’s to get meat or fresh produce that was better than what Safeway or the other stores in town had to offer.

Rex and Laura had a ranch off Placer somewhere, and were fairly well-known in the community. They were like relics from the 1950’s, and I mean that in the best way possible. Their market was a really neat little place, and I remember reading comics while my mom shopped for the various things she preferred to buy there instead of at the ‘big’ grocery store. If I remember right, Rex himself often ran the butcher counter himself.

Thinking back, I’ve come to realize that grocery stores had a certain vibe and smell to them back then that younger people will never experience. At Rex’s, there was something almost euphoric about sitting there and reading comics next to the whir of the massive freezer compartments, breathing the clean but distinctive smell that came from them. It sounds weird, but it was wonderful.

Once, my little sister and I figured out how to jimmy the 10 cent gumball machine there to get free candy. I think we used a popsicle stick or something, but we used to load up on gum while our mom was shopping. When she found out, I think she tried to make us pay the store back – but they just thought it was funny.

Rex’s had video games, too. They had Moon Patrol for a long time, and it was the first place I ever saw Super Mario Bros – something I’ll always remember.

Most of all, there was something special about Rex’s being the “last outpost” where one could buy groceries before heading into the wilds of rural West Redding where we lived. It was on the far edge of town, and having a quaint little market like that there was really cool. Such places are never appreciated properly until they’re gone.

I’m fuzzy on the details, but I believe Rex passed away in the late 80’s or early 90’s – at which point it became a Shasta View market for a while, and then (maybe) a small Holiday market. I can’t quite remember what happened, but once it was no longer Rex’s it was lame. I would love to know when they first opened the place, because it seemed like it hadn’t changed much since the Eisenhower administration.

Today, it’s a community church of some sort, and they’ve built some kind of dumpy strip mall around it. It’s too bad that what was once such a neat place is now completely nondescript and generic.

Here’s to you, Rex & Laura – wherever you are.