Broadbent’s offered quality, loyalty and a little sass

Broadbent’s offered quality, loyalty

and a little sass

By Lara M. Bangerter

The Lehi Historical Society and Archives

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Lehi Free Press in July of 2017. This is the first of a two-part series on the Broadbents and the closing of their store, which has served Lehi for 135 years. This story focuses on the business whereas part two of the series will focus more on the family.

Most certainly one of the longest running family businesses in Utah, Broadbents is calling it quits after 135 years.

Located at 128 N. 100 E., Broadbents has been serving area shoppers since 1882. But times have changed, and its doors will remain closed after Aug. 31. Fourth generation shopkeeper, Betty Broadbent Anderson, said, “I’m old, the store is old. And anymore a lot of people just come to look, like we’re a museum. We don’t mind the looking, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”

It wasn’t always this way.

When Joseph Lee Broadbent and his wife, Sarah, opened their one-room store in 1882, Broadbent and Son General Store was almost an instant success. Over the years it has sold everything from dry goods, groceries, fine hats, Christmas trees, pump organs, hardware, paint and china to linens, sugar, seeds and garden supplies, fabric and notions, furniture, makeup, clothing and babywear.

Broadbents has always strived to offer the very best as noted in a 1933 article in the Lehi Sun, a predecessor to the Lehi Free Press. It reads, “Step inside the grocery department at Broadbent’s Store and notice the transformation. You will be delighted. A wonderful improvement has been made . . . making it easy and convenient for the shopper.

“On entering the store you will notice that a ‘help yourself system’ is being used. There are baskets for the customer and he or she may select the articles that is [sic] needed, put them in the basket and then come back to the counter and have them checked.”

Betty’s mother Alice had her own special shop-keeping flair. When a woman came in and lamented the money she was spending and her husband’s sure disapproval, Betty said her mother was known to say things like, “Do you smoke?” If the answer was no, she justified, “Then this is your cigarette money,” a comparison to the “frivolous” spending habits of other women.

Another common response was, “If you don’t spend it now, your husband will spend it on his second wife.”

For many years, Broadbent’s showroom window nativity scene was not to be missed. The tradition started in 1944. With the war dragging on, Alice decided the community needed a boost. With a beautiful, ceramic nativity scene at the core, Alice draped the showroom window with fabric, lights and additional pieces from a simple cardboard nativity to enhance the scene. “It was so popular we did it every year until about 2000,” said Rebecca Ethington, Betty’s daughter.

Lehi loyalty has also been important to Broadbents as evidenced by a statement Joseph S. made in 1933. Of the Lehi Sugar Factory he said, “We could have diverted a lot of cane sugar and added to our sugar sales, but have refused to do so, and in many cases lost business. We have maintained our determination to patronize our home product and still believe this is the thing, and only thing to do.”

After so many years of Broadbent service, loyalty and humor, it will be missed.

Betty will miss it too. “I’m proud of every inch,” she said. “It has taught us everything.”

Alice liked to tell the story of a customer who once came in and asked for a pack of cigarettes. When she told him they didn’t carry cigarettes, he irritably noted, “This store won’t last until the end of the year.”

Alice smugly replied, “We will see about that.”

Family store links generations

Broadbent children learned from their fathers

By Lara M. Bangerter

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series on the Broadbents and the closing of their store, which has served Lehi for 135 years. Last week’s story focused on the business, today’s story reflects more on the family.

While the closing of Broadbents could be seen as a picture-perfect tale of the American dream, it is also an inspiring story of family ties.

“This whole place has been a labor of love,” said Betty Broadbent Anderson, the fourth generation shopkeeper.

Joseph S. and Joseph Broadbent.

It all began when Joseph L. Broadbent and his wife, Sarah, decided to join the “saints” in Utah. They came from England for religion and the association of those who believed similarly and found prosperity along the way.

When they arrived in 1859, Joseph tried to be a farmer but found little success in the dry desert so he returned to his former profession of repairing watches while his wife brought in money making work clothes. As it turned out both enterprises were in demand and by 1882 they had built a small shop onto their home and their children, Joseph Samuel and Geneva, helped in running the family business.

In the entire 135 years Broadbents has been in business, it has only had to close once.  “And it wasn’t due to storm or war,” said Rebecca Ethington, Betty’s daughter and fifth generation Broadbent. It happened in the late 1890s because almost every member of the family contracted diphtheria. Because the store was connected to the house, customers were afraid to enter.

At the time, Geneva had been left in charge of the store and the wellbeing of 16 family members while her brother served an LDS mission in Great Britain. “She wrote a letter to her brother to come home because everyone was likely to die,” said Ethington. “But months later, when his reply came, he told Geneva that all would be well and to stay open.” Miraculously, everyone lived, but when Geneva read the letter she exclaimed, “That was easy for you to say!”

When Joseph Samuel unexpectedly died in 1937, the store passed into the youthful hands of his son, John. Though 20 years of age, John had grown up working next to his father and knew the business well. A year later he married Alice Davis. They moved into the store’s two-bedroom upstairs apartment, which had formerly housed a photography studio. Together, they built their lives around the store just like John’s parents and grandparents. They had three children Nann, David and Betty.

One Christmas day in the 1940s still stands out. The till from the day before disappeared, and much of the morning was wasted looking for the money before someone discovered that the toddler, David, had taken all of the silver dollars, placed them under his pillow and thrown away the paper money in the coal bucket.

Whether it was in direct reference to this story or another, Alice was known to say, “There’s nothing better than earning $100, and there’s nothing worse than losing it.”

“They were so frugal,” laughed Ethington of her grandparents. “They would pay us a penny a shelf to take all the items off a shelf, wipe it down and stack them neatly back up.”

Ethington also remembers standing on a stool to make change at the cash register, and no one was allowed to work the register until they could count back change. “We definitely learned how to work,” she said, and how to serve and how to love.

For five generations, every Broadbent child has worked and lived beside his or her parents. “It will be so hard to give the store up,” said Betty. “As a tiny child I was running around here, just like my dad was when he was small. This is home. There are so many memories here. It’s everything.”

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