General Stores and Other Markets - July 2013

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I was looking through some old pictures at home recently and came across a picture of my grandparent’s general store that they use to operate in Arlington, Indiana. The building is still there all though it’s no longer a store. My grandparents operated several general stores and I have a nice collection of advertisement and materials of theirs from those stores. The old glass butter churn is one of my favorites.

That got me wondering about general stores in Greenfield and just how general stores or grocery stores came to be all together.

When our first settlers came here there were no Wal-Marts, Marsh or Kroger’s. The food they ate to survive had to be grown and hunted. As time went on and more farm land was cleared, farmers were able to produce more crops. Those crops were turned over to help feed the masses with the construction of grist mills, which would turn the crops into corn meal and flower and then bagged.

General stores or grocery stores are decedents of trading posts. You could find just about any item at a trading post. A trading post is just what the name says, it was a place that you could take items that you didn’t need and trade it for something that you did need. Later these posts grew into businesses or general stores that stocked items on a regular basis.

Elijah Tyner, one of Hancock County’s first settlers, opened the first business in Hancock County. It was located on the western edge of Blue River Township. He bought venison, hams, furs, ginseng from other pioneers and sold them to others.

The 1848 Directory lists Harry Pierson, George Wetherald and William Franklin as grocers in Greenfield.

As Greenfield developed one could find items from specific business men. You went to the butcher to get meat, the dairy to get milk, and horse shoes came from the blacksmith but other items like eggs and vegetables were sold by the families themselves. Not only did these items feed their family but remaining items would be sold or bartered at a local farmers market, dry goods stores or cash spot markets.

As business developed general stores and grocery stores became popular. It was your one stop shop for necessary items. General stores would sell items ranging from cigars to napkins while grocery stores stocked food items. These stores also operated on line of credit so that a farmer could by necessary items and then pay his bill when his crops came in. When you visited a general store you simply told the owner what you needed and he would gather and prepare the items for you. The customer would stay and wait while the order was filled, or they could have the order delivered to their homes. It was a social outing, as well as a shopping trip, for some people. Reminds me of Ike Godsey’s General Store on the Walton’s!

The 1880 City Directory lists J.J. Hauck, T.A. Gant, Sanford Furry, W.S. Gant, G.F. Hauck, Q.D. Hughes, Alexander & Son, Richard Hagan and New & Boots as grocers in Greenfield.

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This picture is a great streetscape picture of the Randall building on Main Street. This picture shows the Spot Cash Market run by H.B. Thayer. A spot cash market is where a farmer could sell his goods to a dealer who would then resale the items to the general public.

 

 

In 1893 Strickland’s Grocery was opened by Harry G. Strickland. This store remained open in the downtown district until October 1, 1957. Greenfield Banking Co. purchased the Strickland building and the Carl Bennett Barber Shop which had occupied the east half of the building.

 

 

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Around the turn of the century you could stop at Marcellus Walker Grocery Store. The picture above is from 1900.

 

 

Hinchman Wagon Works and Grocery was a popular hangout. It was written that on any day you could find 20 or so people gathered around the stove discussing the day's events. Today this building is home to the Greenfield Soup Kitchen.

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Back then you would have to make several stops to complete your order. But in 1908 Henry Ford helped change that. With the ability to mass produce automobiles this allowed people to travel further and faster to obtain their items.

In Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 the first self-service modern-day grocery store opened named Piggly Wiggly. Clarence Saunders invented the grocery store. Saunders wanted to keep the cost of groceries down. One way to do that was to limit the amount of employees he had that were used to fill orders or delivered items. At his store the customer filled their own orders all he had to do was stand and ring out the order.

The 1916 City Directory lists Fred Havens, John Morrison, C. Bert Orr, E.P. Rock & Son, H.G. Strickland, Star Stove, C.E. Vaughn and Earl Walsh as grocers in Greenfield.

Gertrude Welling wrote that her family used to sell butter to the E.P. Rock & Sons Grocery. This store was located on North State Street. They sold them at least six pounds of butter a week. This further shows how local groceries received their products straight from the local residence. Gertrude wrote about taking her turn doing the tiresome churning.

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E.P. Rock and Sons

 

In 1922 Oakley Harlan became the owner of Fancy Grocery in Greenfield.

In 1926 H.B. Bolt, who operated Bolt Meat Market, which was stated to be the oldest meat market in town, sold the market to R.E. Haggerty of Peru, Indiana. This market was located at 20 N. State St.

 By 1926 Greenfield had six cash and carry grocery stores. Most recent was one that was operated by Fred Wright, a former Fortville resident, who bought out the Charles Kern Grocery on West Main St.

 In 1932 a gas explosion heavily damaged Fred Rihms Meat Market and Grocery. It also damaged several other businesses in that block. The market was restored and reopened. Not sure exactly when Rihm market closed but as of 1957 it was listed as the only independent grocery in the downtown district.

 In 1937 Webb's Market installed a new type of food, Honor Brand Frosted Foods. Their add read - "Fresh oysters in August, green asparagus in October, strawberries for Thanksgiving – 'incredible' you might say – but a new industry has sprung up".

 Also in 1937 a Kroger's Grocery was listed. No records could be found to determine the exact date they opened. It was located on the southeast corner of Main and American Legion Place where Andree's Florist currently resides. No records could be found that stated exactly when the downtown Kroger's closed but we do know that it was still in operation into the 1950's. A new Kroger Supermarket was built in the Green Meadows Shopping Center in 1968. It was located there until they built another new store in the Brandywine Plaza Shopping Center located at 1571 N. State St. in 1994. Kroger's was founded in 1883 by Barney Kroger who invested his life savings into a local grocery store in downtown Cincinnati. Today Kroger has 2,500 stores in 31 states.

 

 

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By 1938 Rileytown foods were on sale in Greenfield and other cities. They marketed pancake and buckwheat flours, Rileytown coffee, and Aunt Mary’s Coffee. Earl Brooks headed the company. The plant was located on South Street near the Pennsylvania railroad track. In 1939 Rileytown Foods advertised that they had sold over 6,000,000 cups of Rileytown and Aunt Mary’s coffee and over 1,824,000 Rileytown pancakes and buckwheat cakes to satisfied customers. Anyone have any Rileytown Foods product on their collector shelves?

 Goff Brothers Meat Market opened in February 1939. The Goff brothers were from Pendleton. Their market was at 11 West Main St. and was managed by J.N. McCullers.

 In 1949 one of the early Greenfield homes, and a small medical office building were torn down at the corner of Main and Riley Avenue to make room for the Standard Grocery Store. This store is now home to Pizza King. The home and office building had belonged to the Bruner family, Dr. C.K. Bruner and wife, Dr. Mary Bruner, and later used by Dr. Charles Bruner and Dr. E.A. Hawk.

 The Regal Warehouse and Market was located on East Street, directly across from the Greenfield Christian Church. This building was torn down in 2007. Today it is a public parking lot.

 

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In November 1953 Roy’s Market, a neighborhood grocery located at 415 East Douglas St., became Shively’s Market. Shively’s also purchased Roy Haeberle’s residence on Swope St. Russell Stevens and Mr. and Mrs. Lucian Heim continued as employees.

 Gorman’s Grocery was located at 216 Pennsylvania Ave. Today Terry’s Appliance now occupies the building.

 Marsh was founded in 1931 in Muncie, Indiana and went public in 1953. Today they now have 97 locations in Indiana. In 1958 Greenfield’s new shopping center named Northgate got underway. The first business located in the new mall were Bryne Drug Store, Roselyn Bakeries, Tuchman Cleaners, a gift shop that was operated by two newcomers from Dearborn, Michigan, Mrs. Thelma Janks and Mrs. Ruth Zemlick and a giant March Food Liner supermarket. In 1988 March moved to its current location at 1240 N. State St.

 

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A & P Grocery was located in the Weston Village Shopping Center. Construction began on the center in 1954 and was fully completed by 1959. It later changed names to Shultz IGA. Shultz closed in early 2000's. Today Sears occupies the space.

The Ranch Supermarket was located on the southeast corner of Pennsylvania and South Street. The City purchased the lot in 1998. The building was torn down a short time later. Today it is a public parking lot. I enjoyed the Ranch Market because they had cool western murals on the walls and they had the best mechanical coin horse out front. Boy if I could find one of those at an auction!! The Ranch was the last grocery store to be located in downtown Greenfield.

 We can't also forget Aldi's and Wal-Mart, who changed the grocery/ general store era all together.

 Greenfield also has large and thriving farmers markets still today. The markets takes place at the county fairgrounds and in the parking lot on the southeast corner of North and State Street. The tradition of buying and selling food items directly from the producer continues even today. The Hancock County Harvest Council organizes and sponsors several farmers markets in our area.

 Greenfield has had many places to buy and sell food items. If you remember shopping at one of these stores please share your stories with me.

 

Greg Roland

 

References:
Binford History of Greenfield
Richmond History of Greenfield
The Hancock County Kaleidoscope by Dorothy June Williams.
Hancock County Then & Now by Joseph Skvarenia & Larry Fox
Greenfield Glimpses by Dorothy June Williams
The Daily Reporter
 
 

 

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