Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Tommy Woo of T.S. Woo Enterprises hugs Kathy Nishimoto in front of display of Nishimoto family tributes. Woo has been a longtime supplier of goods to The Bridge Store, which is closing after 89 years in business.
With deep regrets, the Nishimoto family has announced it will soon close its flagship business, The Bridge Store.
“It feels like a death in the family,” said Kathy Nishimoto.
The store opened in May 1928 by Kameyo and Tamaichi Nishimoto. At that time the market was a single-room corner store with wooden floors. The entire Nishimoto family, including Mildred, Keith, Mickey, Sunny, Dorothy, Mary and Patty, all worked tirelessly in the store. The present structure was built in 1965 by Keith and Sunny.
The present generation at the helm are Wally and Kathy Nishimoto and Ruth and Gaylen Thelander. Together they have strived to maintain the business and service to the community. But the old-time Madera supermarket has not been immune to economic conditions that have challenged other local businesses. Prior to a recent recession, the supermarket ran with 75 employees. Today it operates with just 25.
“This will be our last Christmas operating the Bridge Store. In this season of friends and family there are so many emotions surfacing,” said Wally. “We have tried to maintain a family relationship with every one of our employees. Many of our customers have shopped with us for generations.
“I have had the gift of walking in my father’s footsteps for my entire career. I get a glimpse of my father’s touches almost every day. He has left me many messages and notes that we still have up on the wall. That may be part of my greatest sadness, in our closing that I am truly closing a chapter of our lives.
“To my (late) father Sunny, I do not know how you managed everything so well for so long. You raised my sisters and myself as well as ran a great business. You were a tribute to our community as well as my hero.” The Bridge Store has been the first career stepping-stone for many people growing up in Madera. Alumni employees include doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers and almost every other occupation available.
“We are proud of the experience we were able to provide to so many generations in Madera,” said Wally.
Effective immediately the Bridge Store will operate reduced hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“As we enter this time of the holidays and families, we invite our customers to come by to visit and to share stories with the Nishimoto family and our wonderful staff,” said Wally.
“The Nishimoto family has always been dedicated to education and the Madera Community. As we end operations we will have donation bins available for the Madera Food Bank. Please purchase any items you would like to donate to the Food Bank and we will make sure the food bank receives the donation.
“The family is proud to continue providing our famous Fastway nachos and the best fried chicken in town. The public’s continued support of the Nishimoto family at Fastway Market and Fastway Chicken is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Madera, for 89 wonderful years.”