Hoback Market: The Anchor of Southern Teton CountyDecember 14, 2020
Hoback Market owners Barb and Larry Huhn go way back, having grown up in the same neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As kids they were friends: “I’ve known Barb since she was seven,” Larry says. They then became high school sweethearts: the couple married in 1979 and moved to Jackson the following year.
Having worked in the grocery business back in Ft. Wayne, Larry landed a full-time job at the Safeway (now Albertsons) in town. “I was lucky because back then seventy five percent of the employees there were seasonal.”
Larry worked for Safeway for six years. Then the store changed ownership and it was time for Larry to move on. He worked at various jobs, including lift operator at Jackson Hole Ski Resort, while Barb worked as the executive secretary to the resort’s founder, Paul McCallister.
“While I was working on the mountain people encouraged me to consider taking over Broulim’s Thriftway, (now Stone Drug), which had closed. So I went into partnership with my friends
Chad Budge and Dick Stoney and in 1987 we opened Food Town in that space.” The next year Larry bought his partners interests in the store. Food Town did well and expanded three times under his leadership.
Things were going well, but Larry had always wanted to be in business with family so he asked his brother Tony if he’d like to partner with him. Larry had spotted some existing retail property, which included the Point Store and the Main Trail Store and gas station in Hoback. Tony passed on the opportunity, so Larry joined forces with his friend Brad Crouch. The two closed the Main Trail store and focused on the Point Store, located on the parcel of land that would become Hoback Market. In 2003 they expanded the Point Store and renamed it Hoback Market. Larry and Brad remained partners until 2017.
During the early years at Hoback Market, Marc Kelley, who grew up with Barb and Larry’s son Arte and had worked at Food Town as a teenager, began working at the store. Barb says Marc used to say he wanted to own a grocery store one day. Marc became Larry’s partner nearly seven ago.
When I asked Larry how he survived 40 years in the grocery business, he said it comes down to one simple rule. “You have to know how to read your customers and provide the services they want. If you’re doing that, then you’re good!”
Larry and Barb also know how to read the needs of the Teton County community. Barb has been a volunteer at the Museum for seven years, providing administrative support and clocking in hundreds of hours every year. She also helps out at her family’s church and has been teaching 4-H quilting for nearly 20 years.
For the past five summers (excluding this summer due to Covid), Larry has sponsored the Hoback Firefighters Picnic to help raise funds for its volunteer fire department. He provides food for more than 1200 attendees and volunteers alongside the Fire Department team the day of the picnic. Larry also gives everyone who attends a Hoback Market gift card.
This summer, Hoback Market became a Museum Business Member. In doing so, Larry made sure the decision would benefit Barb, Marc and the store’s employees.
“Barb likes the social aspect of being a volunteer and the contribution the Museum makes to Jackson and being a business member allows Marc and his wife Rebecca to be more aware of what’s happening at the Museum. And since we’re on the opposite end of the valley, it’s nice to give our employees an opportunity to be a part of it too.”