I have had an engaging series of emails dealing with Mom and Pop Grocery stores in Delmar and I thought I would do a post on them. Now remember I grew up outside of Salisbury so what I know about Delmar grocery stores is based on what I read or what people tell me. There were still a number of them around in the late 1970’s when I moved here. There was even a couple into the 1990’s. I would consider the Foodrite in the same category as an Independent Mom and Pop store so I guess that was the last traditional small 1950’s style grocery store in Delmar.
The traditional Mom and Pop stores from the 1940’s and 1950’s were usually within walking distant in the neighborhood, usually one every 4 or 5 blocks. They were frequently located in an old two story house with the bottom floor being the store and the top being living space for their family. The owners of the stores were proud of their store and gave the store their name such as; Jack’s, Caldwells, Hines, Wootten, Whayland, R. W. Adkins, etc. Some were associated with grocery buying associations (IGA). They were independent and civic minded. They were gathering places where the regulars would stop in and buy a soda, chat, and catch up on the news. In hind sight they had a somewhat rustic favor as they were not as brightly lit as today’s stores, usually they had a wooden plank floor or it was covered in a worn linoleum. Some were air conditioned, most were not. They usually offered credit, as back in those days, the wife was given a limit amount of money but she had charge accounts in all the places she did business; gas station, laundry, hardware store, grocery store, and dress shops. On payday the husband would go around and pay the charge accounts. Sometime the customer would serve themselves but more frequently you would give the clerk, who usually wore a large white apron, a list of what you wanted and he would run around and fill the order. Sometimes the housewife would just telephone in the order. The groceries were usually put in a cardboard box and he would list each item on an order tablet and tear off the carbon copy of the slip from the pad so you would know how much you owed. Credit was the downfall of a number of these store. Women were usually helped to the car with the groceries or since they all offered free delivery a kid on a grocery bike (had those big baskets and sometime a store sign on it) would deliver it later.
The store itself usually had meat case with a hamburger grinder, meat slicer and one of those large meat scales that would show you the weight of your food. They usually offered a good selection of cold cuts and meats. They had bins of in season produce and Irish (white) potatoes. Besides the shelves of can goods and the bread shelf they had penny candy jars, and open boxes of cookies. Cleanliness was assumed in those days as the clerk would pick up the candy or cookies in his bare hands and put them in a paper bag. You also didn’t look too closely at the fly strips hanging from the ceiling.
The one thing for me that does stand out is those old soft drink ice chest coolers. They had refrigerated water or a slurry of ice and water in them and a Nehi ginger ale from one of them was always near freezing.
The stores were an asset to the local farmers as the store would buy local produce, eggs, etc from them, usually in exchange for store products or actual cash.
The family that ran the store usually had for supper what didn’t sell or was approaching it’s pre-spoil stage.
One disadvange of the large chain stores replacing mom and pop stores beside the decreased advertising business for newspapers, was decreased donations for church, civic and school groups. Before a band booster club could get $50 from 6 or 7 Mom and Pop Grocery Stores, now they get one donation of a hundred dollars from either Food Lion or Walmart.
We tend to give these Mom and Pop stores memories and specific visions and notions of an idealized life. There is a reason why they aren’t in existence in their 1940 or 1950 form today, in spite of what your memory says they had a limited selection of products, high prices, miserable hours, frequently closing by 5 or 6 PM, Altho most were honest businessmen other store owners would not hesitate to cheat you, they were gossip centers, and very prejudice in regards to social standing and treatment.
Years ago when I thought this might be an interesting business to be in I looked at buying a small country store and found if you worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week you could cleared about $9,000 a year - not enough for the effort required from someone as lazy as me.
Mom and Pop grocery stores still are in existent in Delmar, they are usually in the form of a convenience store and they are usually run by an Indian, Asian or Hispanic person. Immigrants seem to be more entrepreneurial than us local natives, they don’t seem to mind taking a chance on a shoestring budget.
Some Grocery stores that have been in Delmar (most of the ads are from the 1950 to 1962 period);
Jacks Market,Jack and Ruth Dashper moved here with son Jackie about 1945 or 1946 and took over the market at 301 Pine street.
This is 301 Pine Street today. The building has been home to a couple of groceries. I think J. R. Hines and son had a grocery here before it became Jack's market.They lived at 411 Pine street. In 1951 he moved to the Wilmington area and took a job with DuPont and in 1958 transferred to Western Tennessee with them He died about 1974 and his wife died about 2007.
Jack and Herb Dashper at 411 Pine street.
Mills Store was on the. corner of Elizabeth Street and Second street(208 E. Elizabeth). It was operated by Gene Mills in the 1920 and 1930’s and 1940’s.
Sturgis Store was down on Elizabeth Street near Bi-State blvd and was owned by Tom Sturgis.
W. W. Whayland’s store see post I did back in November on Whayland’s store.
Caldwells Market was out by the VFW. I think Thorp caldwell ran it.
Brittingham and Culver (B & C)Started by C. Edward Culver and John R. Hines in the building occupied by E. H. Brittingham on the corner of Pine Street and Rt13 in 1944.
Eppie Culver, son of Edward Culver, worked there and later attended the University of Maryland. He was known for his baseball skills.
Wootten’s Market; Herman Wootten ran the store on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and Grove St. Herman Wootten was active in the community. It was in the boarded up corner of the buildings downtown.
Clover Farm Store; Started by Lester Smith and transferred to his son Jimmy Smith. It was located in the LeCates Building at the corner of State Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. I think Clover Farm was a grocery store buying association like the IGA.
R. W. Adkins; Riley Adkins ran a successful store for a long period of time. Even after his death in 1944 the store continued to operate under his name. It was at State Street, past the 13a stop light.
Highway Market at the corner of BiState and Delaware, later became Midget Market
Jimmy Jones Grocery store located where the Foodrite building is.
Benny Wootten ran a grocery store at the corner of State and Maryland Ave.
American Store; Altho not an independent Mom and Pop operation I will mention it since I think it was the grocery in town that was connected to a large grocery chain. It was located where Linda’s railroad Café is now. Acme merged their store with four Philadelphia grocers in 1917 to become the American Stores Company. In the 1930s, most of the grocer's storefronts became Acme Markets, the one in Delmar stayed an American store.
Other stores I have no information on except they sold groceries in the 1920 era; Wainwright’s, Parker’s, Melson’s, Hearn’s, and Gordy’s.