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SIOUX CITY | Four days a week, Irv Givot stacks the grocery shelves at South Sioux City's Walmart with packages of cookies and snack foods.

"You've got to line everything up real nice," he said. "Your displays have to look like opening day every day."

It's clear that Givot knows his way around merchandising. After all, the 91-year-old Sioux City native has spent most of his life working in grocery stores.

"When I was born, my parents (Joseph and Fanny Givot) owned a grocery store in Morningside," he remembered. "They opened up the West Side Market around the time I turned 5."

After serving in World War II, Givot helped his mom run the small 1825 W. Fourth St. grocery for many years, before taking it over himself.

"My parents started the West Side Market opened in 1928 and I closed in 1997," he noted. "A family-owned grocery sticking around for 69 years is a pretty good run, especially in this day and age."

Through the years, Givot said his customers became lifelong friends. And, according to his grandson Phil Sklar, Givot's work ethic and modest entrepreneurship has been inspirational.

"My grandpa on my dad's side was in the clothing business while Grandpa Irv was in the grocery business," Sklar said. "If I wanted to look for positive business role models, all I had to do is look at my family."

Earning a master's of business degree from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, a master's in accounting from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor's in finance from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Sklar, 30, began his career working for some of the top corporations in the country.

"I liked what I was doing but it wasn't enough," he admitted. "My Grandpa Irv always advised me to be passionate about what I chose to do."

And what is Sklar passionate about? Believe it or not, he's passionate about bobbleheads.

Along with his friend Brad Novak, Sklar is the co-founder of National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, which is expected to house the world's largest collection of bobbing head dolls when it opens in Milwaukee in 2016.

"I was surprised to learn Phil was leaving the corporate world for bobbleheads," Givot allowed, "but I figured he knew what he was doing."

Indeed, Givot knew from the very beginning that the grocery business was his preferred profession.

"I'd come to work seven days a week with a smile on my face," he remembered. "And then I'd leave work, with the same smile on my face."

Givot gives credit to a loyal customer base for keeping him in business while acknowledging Sue Givot, his wife of more than 63 years, kept things going at home.

"Sue took care of raising our daughters (Deborah Kronick and Jodi Sklar) while I ran the store," Givot explained.

"Irv and I are complete opposites," Sue Givot explained. "He's outgoing and loves people, sports and music while I'm a homebody who prefers simple things."

Yet even Sue Givot is surprised at her husband's work ethic.

"After Irv sold West Side Market, he made ends meet by working three different jobs at the same time," she said, explaining her husband's ambitions remained strong well into his 80s.

Since he started stocking shelves about seven years ago, Givot has limited himself to simply one job.

"Work must be Irv's middle name," Sue Givot said with a smile. "This is all he's ever done."

Well, that and becoming a role model for grandson Sklar.

"When I look at my grandfather, I see a modest man who would everything he could to support his family," Sklar said. "I think that's a life well-spent."

To be honest, Givot's life as well as his career is far from over.

"I don't golf or have hobbies," he said, shaking his head. "I work because it gives me satisfaction."

Even after all these years?

"Absolutely," he said. "I knew from a very early age that my passion was in the grocery business and I've never regretted a single minute of it."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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