After 37 years, five different stores and a three-month recovery from a serious car accident, Boone Fareway manager Wayne Lamoureux is preparing to take one last assignment at Fareway as he transfers to the Nevada store next week.
Lamoureux, a farm kid from Varina, took his first job at Fareway during high school as a part-time employee in Storm Lake about 17 miles away. He thought he was going to be a farmer when he grew into adulthood, but when those plans fell through, he went to the city to find work.
Lamoureux bounced around the state’s Fareway stores where they needed him, working as an employee and assistant manager in Clear Lake, Spirit Lake and Marshalltown until he was asked to become the grocery manager in Boone.
“As Fareway does, you move around and move your way up,” he said.
He was travelling from Boone back to Marshalltown the night of Dec. 30, 1994, right after he was officially named manager of the store. As he passed by State Center around 5 a.m., a drunk driver struck him head on.
He suffered several facial injuries, which forced doctors to install a mesh to keep his right eye in place and to wire his mouth shut to allow some of his broken teeth to heal. Lamoureux’s foot was also broken in several places.
“I didn’t know who I was,” he said. “My head damage was pretty bad, so for the first month I didn’t know who people were or I didn’t know they were there.”
Lamoureux spent the next three months recovering at hospitals in Minnesota and at home, waiting for his leg to become strong enough to withstand physical therapy.
“My wife, she had to go through it all, and my three kids,” he said. “As far as I knew I was in la la land.”
Lamoureux walked into the Boone store for the first time as manager April 15, 1995. He then spent 22 years and nine months managing the grocery side of the Boone store.
But when outgoing Nevada Fareway manager Doug Bradford announced his retirement, Lamoureux decided he wanted a new challenge. He put his name in against 12 other contenders vying for that position.
“I had been here a long time and I was ready for a change and a new opportunity to better myself, so I put in my name,” he said.
Lamoureux plans to stay in Boone and commute to Nevada, but saying goodbye to his staff and the regulars at the Boone Fareway has been sad. However, Lamoureux’s presence will still be felt around town.
“I’ll still be around Boone, my wife’s from here, so although I’ll be gone from the store, I’ll still have all my friends here,” he said.
Lamoureux, 55, said he plans to retire after a decade or so at the helm of the Nevada store. In the meantime, he said the challenge of running a store in a smaller community and discovering its quirks will be fun for him.
As he prepares to hand off his manager’s keys later this week, Lamoureux said he never considered making groceries his career growing up.
Lamoureux said while the world has changed drastically in the nearly four decades he’s been in the grocery business, there is still a place for Fareway’s business model while its regional and national competitors push towards ready-to-cook meal packs and e-commerce.
“Fareway’s not into that yet, not saying they won’t ever be” he said. “I just hope people understand we’re a full-service grocery store. We sack your groceries, we get your cut of meat at the meat department and it’s not pre-packaged, and we’re going to carry out your groceries for you. It’s amazing how many people come in that don’t know that we do that.”