When Roger Croshaw went out to lunch with his wife on April 28, it seemed like just another day. The sun was out, which made for a pleasant meal, and when he returned the parking lot was full -- a good sign that indicated a busy shopping day at his store, Bert’s Red Apple Market.

But when Croshaw finally made it inside and rounded the dairy section, he found a surprise in the chip aisle. Waiting for him next to the Tostitos and Lay’s were his daughter-in-law, his food wholesaler, Mike Koens, Washington Food Industry Association President Jan Gee, and a cake.

“Oh my lord, what is this?” he asked.

Gee told Croshaw that he had been selected as the Association’s Grocer of the Year for 2017. The award is given to independent grocers who have made a lifetime commitment to service in the industry.

“I think 55 years more than qualifies,” Gee said, with a chuckle.

She added that Croshaw’s tenure had been marked by charitable and community-building contributions such as repeated sponsorship of the Shore Run, contributions to McGilvra Elementary School, and service on several industry boards.

“Stop, stop, you’re making my head bigger with every word,” Croshaw said. “On second thought, go on.”

Family, employees and business associates continued to heap praise on Croshaw.

“I’ve known you for 15 years,” Koens said. “I consider you a friend and you’re certainly a mentor to the industry.”

Croshaw took over Bert’s Red Apple in 1976. It had been his father’s business.

Bert Croshaw opened the original Bert’s Red Apple Market near Madison Park Beach in 1937, during the final years of the Great Depression. By 1948, he had done well enough to invest in the construction of the store that continues to stand today, on the corner of Madison and 41st Avenue East.

“My father always said grocery people are the best people, because they know what it takes to make a dollar,” Croshaw said.

Croshaw began working for his father after he returned from college in the mid-1960s.

As time went on, he brought his sons into the business. Though Troy died in 2007, Tyler now works as the manager of the store. The elder Croshaw is semi-retired, but continues to work.

“[My family and I] love it, and I’ll probably be in it as long as I can pull my boots on,” he said.

Croshaw credited the store’s location in a community with heavy foot traffic for part of his success, but also said how important it was to pay attention to customers.

“The people here, I’ve known their parents, I’ve known their grandparents,” he said. “Everyone is family here.”
Croshaw received the Grocer of the Year award at the Washington Food Industry Association’s convention in Spokane the weekend of May 20.