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home : business : business August 22, 2017

9/3/2013 1:27:00 PM
The Gallimaufry marks 35th year in business in Sisters
Bob and Claudia Grooney have operated The Gallimaufry through “retirement” — for 35 years. photo by Jim Fisher
+ click to enlarge
Bob and Claudia Grooney have operated The Gallimaufry through “retirement” — for 35 years. photo by Jim Fisher

By Jim Fisher

One of the first questions that many first-time visitors to Sisters ask when they see the large sign on the building at the corner of Cascade Avenue and South Elm Street is "what is The Gallimaufry?"

For Bob and Claudia Grooney, that name represents 35 years of doing business in Sisters. That's how long they have operated The Gallimaufry & Liquor Store selling gifts and beverages while being active in the Sisters community.

"We chose that name deliberately," Claudia says. "We wanted to be free to sell a variety of merchandise without being labeled a specialty shop."

The name gallimaufry first appeared in France in 1556, meaning a stew. Gradually, it grew to mean everything from a ragbag or a menagerie to an assortment or variety, and that is exactly what the Grooneys wanted.

Bob was born in California in the Hollywood Hospital.

"I don't tell that to too many people," he states, concerned what some people might think. "When people first came into the store and asked 'where are you from?,' "I said the Valley, but I didn't say which valley."

He grew up in Southern California where his father was the musical director for the Warner Brothers Studio and worked with the background music in the first talking motion picture, the 1927 movie "The Jazz Singer," starring Al Jolson. As a young man, Bob also found work in the movie industry, as did his brothers. Bob was a standby driver for driving the stars home from the studio including Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, a young Elizabeth Taylor and her mother, and many others. His older brother worked for MGM and was the assistant film-cutter on "The Wizard of Oz."

Bob found a first career with the Ralph's Grocery Company chain for 27 years, including 21 years as the director of their training store. Claudia's father worked for the U. S. Geological Survey and after living on the East Coast and in the Midwest, her family moved to Southern California. Eventually, she found employment at the same store as Bob, and they were married 41 years ago.

In 1977, the Grooneys drove north to Prineville to visit Claudia's family. Afterwards they drove through Sisters on their way to Detroit Lake.

"This is where I want live" Claudia said.

She kept after Bob to return. They did return and purchased 10 acres in the Indian Ford area. Then, they started looking at ways that they could retire, move to the Sisters area and start a business.

In April 1979 they made the move, renting commercial space in the new Gallery annex and opening a natural food store to capitalize on the growing national demand for natural foods. Later they moved to a larger space in the annex, hoping to increase sales, but sales still were not strong enough in the Sisters area. Later, they moved diagonally across Elm Street to a corner location, changing their merchandise to gifts and closing out natural


Things improved in 1984 when the retail sale liquor license in Sisters became available.

"We applied with 17 other applicants," Bob recalls. "That number was cut to five and then to two finalists who were interviewed by the liquor control commission. We were one of the


Bob did his homework by visiting retail liquor outlets in California and applying his marketing background in preparing his proposal for the license. At the commission meeting, he stood at a podium and looked up to the commission sitting at a higher level. The commission chairman said "go ahead, Mr. Gooney, with your song and dance." His response was that he was going to disappoint the chairman right off because he didn't sing or dance, but he sure knew how to run a liquor store. The Grooneys got the


Looking back, Bob remembers how complex the application was to get the license, with all the background checks and requirements.

"You could get into the FBI easier," he believes.

In September 1989, they moved their business to the present location, eventually expanding their space there with the need for both retail sales and storage for inventory. They have remained true business partners, with Claudia responsible for ordering gift items and other merchandise for the store while Bob manages the liquor orders and sales. The Grooneys have always enjoyed meeting new customers and greeting long-time customers who tell them that they would never come to Sisters without stopping in The Gallimaufry.

Their grandson, Adrian "Spud" Shaw, has worked for his grandparents for 13 years and has been store manager for the past five


Off the job, both Bob and Claudia have been very active in contributing to the community they love. Bob served 26 years on the board of directors of the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce. He went to his first chamber meeting in July 1980 and at the September meeting he was elected vice president. The following year, he was elected president, the office he had held for the chamber in his California hometown. Later, he was named Sisters Citizen of the Year by the chamber.

Bob has been a member of Kiwanis Club of Sisters since 1979, and served as club president. He also served as chairman of the Sisters School Board where the first thing he asked for was a study of the plan requiring Sisters high school students at that time having to travel to Redmond.

"My grandson was just getting ready to go to high school and I was taken aback by the fact that he had to catch a bus at 7 in the morning to go to school," Bob recalls.

Bob pushed for a study of the Redmond plan that eventually led to a new Sisters High School. He also served on the Community Action Team for Sisters and on an economic development team for the area. He also was active in a local educational program directed at high school male students promoting avoiding violence toward women.

Claudia's off-the-job interests have involved caring for gardens in the city and at home. She helped organize the Sisters Garden Club 24 years ago, the club that cares for the beautiful landscaped garden areas in the city. At home, her free time is spent caring for her own home garden.

Away from the store, the Grooneys have participated in tours to distilleries in the United States and other countries, learning more each trip about their changing products. Their travels have taken them to Kentucky and Tennessee plus tours to Mexico, Canada, and


Looking to the future, Bob and Claudia hope that with an improving economy, Sisters will continue to prosper. The major Sisters street improvement planned in the coming months will likely have some impact on the business community, they believe, but it will benefit the city in the long run. They have no plans to retire, but to keep enjoying their careers that have been so fulfilling to them for 35 years.

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