Dale and Don – simply sweethearts

An East Coast visitor staying with friends in Glen Ellen asked on his first morning if there was a market nearby where he could buy a Sunday newspaper.

He was given directions for the five-minute drive and returned an hour later with two grocery bags overflowing with cheese and bread, smoked salmon, various gourmet sausages, a fresh fruit tart and a spinach quiche, several bottles of exceptional wine, a jug of fresh-squeezed orange juice, numerous breakfast pastries, some fresh-ground coffee and a copy of the Sunday New York Times.

He was ecstatic and in awe.

He had discovered Shone’s, otherwise known as the Glen Ellen Village Market. And he babbled on about it through half the morning, insisting that nowhere in his upscale Philadelphia suburb was there any market remotely as good, with anything approaching the quality, variety and appeal that we had, right there in our little village, barely more than a wide spot in the road.

His was a common reaction, but at that early point in his relationship with Shone’s he had barely scratched the surface, he had not yet discovered the much larger, even more abundantly endowed Sonoma Market. Nor did he know the rich history of extraordinary generosity spun from the ownership threads of Don Shone and Dale Downing, partners on and off for half a century who, on Saturday, will be celebrated as the Boys & Girls Club Sweethearts of the Year, even as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of their stores.

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