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Remember the old corner grocery stores?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:11 pm
by Marie5656
Who remembers the old corner grocery stores from back when we were kids? This is a great article from the Batavia, NY paper, about some of the stors around Batavia. The names of the stores will mean nothing to you, but I bet they will still spark a memory or two. I am also attaching a picture of my grandparents store, from back in the 30s. My grandfather is the guy in the white apron, and that is my grandmother next to him. See the two guys leaning up against tbhe corner of the building? The guy on the right is my dad.

HLOM Feature: Once-popular mom and pop stores are cherished memories
This postcard shows the interior of the J.S. Callahan Grocery and Meat Market circa 1913. It was located at 26 Main Street in Batavia. (Courtesy of Holland Land Office Museum)

Monday, April 26, 2010 10:21 AM EDT
Memories have a way of making you shed the years and return to the times when you were young. Life was simple and uncomplicated then. It doesn't matter what decade; many of us share a similar memory of a corner grocery store in Genesee County. They all were a little different in size but carried the same items. It depended on where you lived and this determined which store was considered your grocery store. At one time there was a mom and pop store on almost every corner.

My memories date back to the late '50s when I was in grade school and my brothers and I would take our Red Flyer wagon and walk to the Red and White Store on Ross Street. We would load up the wagon with pop bottles that we could return for money. If we had 20 bottles we could earn 40 cents and that could buy a whole bag of candy! The excitement was when you would ask to see the box of penny candy. You could choose from many sugary treats such as Chum Gum, Pixy Sticks, Tootsie Rolls, wax lips, Bazooka bubble gum, and Safety Pop suckers to name only a few. For a nickel you could also buy a big chocolate bar.

When was the birth of the mom and pop stores? One advertisement for such a store dated back to 1841. The ad stated that G. Diamond had a store that sold groceries and liquor. In 1871 Dailey's store was located on 28 and 30 Main St. During 1877 Charles G. Huggins had a store on 64 Main St. called Choice Groceries. Combs and Kerslake had a meat market and grocery store in 1889. Another store L.C. Lorish Store was located on 21-23 Jackson Street in 1890. The Oriental Company on 43 Main St. sold tea, coffee, and baking powder. There was a Jones Central Market on 5 Jackson St, J.S. Callahan Grocery was on 26 Main St., and Kellogg Grocery was on the corner of Oak and West Main Street. The Phelps Store was located on 113 Main St. The Flatiron Cash Grocery building was moved from one spot on Pearl Street to another retail location on same street.

In 1921 there were five Market Basket Stores open in Batavia, 103 Jackson St., 5 State St., 29 West Main St., 500 East Main St., and 440 Ellicott St. Caito bothers had a store on 56 Main Street; they sold fruits and vegetables. John S. Brown of 18 Main Street served customers from 1890 to 1928. Casey Brother's store on 118 Main St. was the longest running store. They were in business for 40 years.

While researching the city directories there were 25 mom and pop stores operating in 1939. In 1940 there were 23 stores open. The figures jumped dramatically in 1947 to 42 stores. In 1959 there were 22 stores and then in 1968 there were only 19 stores. By 1975 there were 21 stores and in 1988 there were just five. Sadly, in 1995 only two stores remained.

The names of the stores often changed but the locations stayed the same for many years. An example would be the store on Oak Street. In 1939 it was called Burch's, later it became Reinhardts, then the Short Stop. Do you remember going to a store on Washington Avenue that you had to walk downstairs to the basement to reach the store? In 1947 it was owned by Regina Murphy and was called Downy's. I remember the store when it was known as Quartley's. Guastaferro and Pelletteries owned a store at 103 Jackson at different times. Johnston Food Store was located on 106 West Main Street. Later this store was called Corrigans. There were two stores on Ross Street, 13 Ross, and 132 Ross. The store at 132 Ross Street changed many hands from John Lowe, to Howard Lentz, Samuel Caito, Hart and Hart, Red and White, Cummings, and then to Say's Grocery.

I remember Bill's Meat Market on 208 Swan Street. Like many others I would go in there and buy my meat in the '70s. Bill would let you charge your purchases and his book keeping method was very unique. He would use meat wrapping paper to record what customers bought and owed. When you paid your bill he would cross off your name. Previous owners were Casimer Krause and Edwin Kiebala.

The store on 162 Jackson also had many owners. Sara Brown and Charles McNall were owners of this store. At one time Salvadore Marchese owned the store and later the Riccobono's owned it for many years. In 1937 Rose Maniace was the owner; it later changed hands and was called Bennett's Grocery. It later became know as Pieo Grocers. Now known as South Side Deli it has been a landmark in this area for many years. Another fond memory I have was going in there as a young girl and watching my father buy Italian cheese for our Sunday meals.

The Marchese brothers were always associated with the grocery business and their names date back to 1925. They also owned National Food Company, Big M Store, and Marchese Food Land. As with the birth of the mom and pop store we also have their deaths. One by one these little landmarks would close their doors taking with them the memories of family owned establishments. Inevitably the big stores came to Batavia, the names of Loblaws, Super Duper, Star Market, Jubliee, and Tops were the big names in grocery stores. Today we have Tops Supermarket for grocery shopping. We still have corner stores but larger supermarkets, not individual families, usually own them.

The one store that was a constant was Granger and Company. That was the tall building located on 17-23 Evans St. This was where most of these mom and pop stores bought the food items to sell. Granger was a wholesale grocer and served small grocery stores and restaurants. It was originally a mill where flour was made and also had two roundhouses on the property. Today, the last roundhouse is where the office of Dr. Lamb is located.

I was inspired to write this story about the early stores because my father-in-law worked at Grangers for 47 yeas. He knew where every mom and pop store was located and all of the former owners by name. He had wonderful stories to go along with each store; I only wish I had written them all down. This article is dedicated to Henry F. Starowitz Sr., the wholesale grocer that kept the mom and pop stores shelves filled with groceries.

Please note that this article only contains the names of the stores for the years of: 1939, '40, '47, '59, '61, '68, '75, '88, '95, and 2000. This is just a sampling of the mom and pop stores that were in Batavia. I know that all of the hamlets, villages and towns in Genesee County have their memories of their mom and pop store. Please contact me if you would like to share them. My e-mail address is


Re: Remember the old corner grocery stores?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:15 pm
by 24HourNut
Great stuff, and I love seeing the photo. I always love seeing those kinds of photos and imagining what it would be like to live then with them.

Re: Remember the old corner grocery stores?

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:25 pm
by Marie5656
I love the old pictures. Here is another, it is inside my grandfather's store (from my first picture)


Re: Remember the old corner grocery stores?

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:30 pm
by Millennium
Looking at the conditions they lived in back then, it's a wonder any of them came out alive.......Great pics.