This past week, I was extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Boonville’s own, Jim Miller. For the last 55 years, Jim served as the owner of Miller's 5 & 10 Cent Store located on the historic Boonville Square.
Boonville has one of the few intact squares remaining in Indiana, and Jim’s store was a staple there. People from all over Warrick County would come to Boonville for the chance to shop at his store and experience an old-fashioned tradition. It allowed people to temporarily escape from the commonalities of our world today: big money retailers looking to get customers in and out as quickly as possible. For many, its presence took them back to their youth and reminded them of a quieter, simpler time.
His store always carried a special significance for me because I grew up in a corner grocery store. My grandparents owned the store and later, my parents bought it. I began working there when I was just 11 years old and while I did not carry on the tradition, when I opened my own medical supplies facility, I based it off of my experiences at the corner store.
It was important to me to draw people in without being a big dollar store. I wanted to find my own niche and offer the products that people want and need but that big stores do not want to carry. This is precisely the type of customer service that Jim has provided over the years.
When I look back on my first few months in Boonville, back in 1975, Jim was one of the first people that I met. Right away, I could tell that he was a very easy going, likeable person but at the time, I could not have imagined the impact he would have on my life.
If we’re lucky, we all have someone who serves as a mentor, pushing us to branch out and try new things. For me, Jim was one of those people. He had strong conservative values and was very community oriented. As a new member of the community, he took a special interest in introducing me to people around town. He also played an integral role in getting me involved in the local Jaycees, a leadership training and civic organization for young adults.
In that respect, Jim helped to shape me and encourage my passion for civic engagement, something which led me to where I am today. While I am unsure of what Jim’s passing means for the future of his store, one thing is for sure: he was an icon in Boonville, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. He offered an unparalleled commitment to the betterment of our community whether it was through personalized service and a smiling face at the cash register or through his participation in organizations like the Boonville Elks Lodge.
As I reminisce, I know that I am just one of many people who have special memories of Jim, and I hope that we can all learn one last lesson from him; that lesson being that sometimes, we just need to slow things down a little. Despite our hectic lives, I hope that we remember the things that we learned from his example and continue to give back to our community in his memory.