Rewind: April 15, 2023
Neighborhood Markets of the Bygone Era
by Teri Rogers
The little markets that dotted the neighborhoods of Glens Falls in the early to mid-20th century were busy hubs for local residents. Literally dozens of small grocery stores, “Mom and Pop shops,” thrived around the city and are fondly remembered by generations of people who lived in “Hometown U.S.A.”
As shops that carried fresh produce, meats, bread, eggs, milk and dairy products, canned and boxed goods, they were destinations for housewives preparing meals for their families. Last-minute items were sometimes picked up there by husbands and fathers on their way home from work. Kids walked or rode their bikes to the little “corner stores” to buy penny candy, popsicles, and small toys, like caps or jacks. Back in the days of more traditional sex roles, the local markets were centrally located so that mothers in the neighborhoods could shop for fresh foods on a daily basis – and have dinner on the table when their husbands came home from work. These little shops were also meeting places for neighbors, centers for news and gossip, and the places where children could learn about money by purchasing candy and treats with their allowance, or lawn-mowing or babysitting earnings.
The owners of these small grocery stores were well-known in their sections of the city. Many of them had interesting backgrounds, some had strange quirks, and all were hard workers. Stories and anecdotes still abound about the various stores, who ran them, and often the local “characters” who frequented them. Butterfield’s on the corner of Bay and Chester Streets was run by Jimmy Butterfield and his wife. Jimmy was blind – from service in World War II – but he managed the store, made change, stocked the shelves, and waited on customers just the same. School kids would stop at Stafford’s on Davis Street on their way home to buy penny candy under Mrs. Stafford’s stern and watchful eyes. Students at Glens Falls Senior High School would head for the “school store” on the corner of Cortland Street and Sherman Avenue when the 2:30pm bell rang. Walt Deyoe was the friendly face that would greet shoppers at Picheo’s on the corner of Sanford Street and Logan Avenue. Barber’s Market on Shippey Street and Donahue’s Market on Maple Street were known for their choice meats. Jimmy and Rita Arthur owned the little market on Orville Street and were known for their kindness. Mrs. Durant was a widow, and she ran the store on Thomson Avenue; teenagers tried to trick her with their fake IDs into selling them beer to drink in nearby Bay Street Cemetery.
Other small grocery stores in Glens Falls in the era of the 1940’s until the 1970’s were: Sweeney’s, on the corner of Maple and Cherry Streets; Davignon’s, on Davis Street a few doors down from Stafford’s; Robillard’s, on First Street; Jalet’s, on the corner of South and Third Streets; Cavanaugh’s, on the corner of Knight and Staple Streets; Ridge Street Fruit Market, on the corner of Sumner Place and Ridge Street; Marguerite’s on the corner of Lawrence and McDonald Streets, Fiores, on the corner of Lawrence and Walnut Streets, and Tachati’s on Lawrence Street; Mohican Market, on Warren Street; Roth’s, on Broad Street; Richardson’s, on the corner of Richardson and Main Streets in West Glens Falls…….and likely a few more that cannot be recalled by this author.
The advent of suburbanization and shopping centers in the 1960’s and ‘70’s led to the eventual demise of the local “Mom and Pop shops.” People began to shop at Central Market, A&P, Grand Union, and Albany Public. A few family-owned grocery stores, like Sokol’s and Slim’s, however, continued to survive in Queensbury through the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. These days, though, Hannaford, Price Chopper, WalMart and Aldi “superstores” have changed the way we all shop for groceries and sundries. Gone are the days of Tony Picheo checking out his customers with a cash register. Shoppers are learning to use self-checkouts and order on-line. Some people simply pull-up to specially designated spots in the parking lot to have their groceries delivered straight to their cars.
My, how our world has changed.
The Historical Society would like to have photos of the neighborhood markets in Glens Falls, If you have any, would you consider lending us a copy? Contact us at 518-743-0734.