Neighborhood grocery stores. Remember them? Not that long ago, before big-box chain supermarkets and convenience stores, every neighborhood had at least one grocery store. Often they were on a corner. Sometimes beside an alley. Often they were tiny, no larger than the houses that surrounded them. Many didn’t have a parking lot: Customers arrived on foot, on bicycle. Sometimes the proprietor lived in the same building.
Here are some buildings that yoostabe neighborhood groceries. (At the bottom of the post is a city directory listing of retail grocers in Fort Worth in 1920. Overwhelmingly mom-and-pop operations. Only one national chain: Piggly Wiggly with three stores. The other two companies with more than one store—Turner & Dingee and Sandegard—were locally owned.)
The intersection of West Magnolia Avenue and Hemphill Street in 1910 is typical: two “markets” and three “groceries.”
This building, dating to 1913, is at 526 Jennings Avenue on the near South Side. When you see a small building of this age in the inner city, it probably has been a grocery store at least once in its long career. This building housed a grocery store from 1913 to 1937.
On the north wall of the building is a ghost sign for Bewley’s Best flour.
The first grocer was John E. Wolfe, who may have built the building.
In 1937 Thomas Food Store was the last grocery to occupy the duplex building. At various times all or part of the building housed a “furniture hospital,” furniture store, printing company, auto repair, cleaners, and plumbing business.
In the 1960s the Dunnagan family moved its iron works into the building.
Robert Tillery’s grocery store on Forest Park Boulevard just east of the zoo was a neighborhood institution for forty years. The Alma Turner Building was built in 1929 by Ida Turner, a Fort Worth postmistress, who named it for her debutante daughter. It now houses law offices.
Tillery’s Grocery closed in 1978. Robert Tillery died in 1990.
Henry Sawyer built this building on South Main at Daggett Street as a grocery store in 1909 after the great South Side fire of that year destroyed his previous building. He operated a grocery there into the early 1920s.
By 1888 Sawyer already was operating a grocery store and living at that 201 South Main location.
Also on West Exchange Avenue, this building (1908) yoostabe the grocery of James F. Dill.
Even chain supermarkets were smaller than they are today and served an immediate neighborhood. For example, one block north of the Sawyer Building at 104 South Main was Safeway store no. 332 in the 1940s. The 1945 city directory shows that Henry Sawyer’s building at 201 South Main now housed Pat Crow.
The building that houses the venerable Paris Coffee Shop at 704 Magnolia Avenue once was Safeway store no. 335. The fronts of these two Safeway buildings originally were nearly identical.
The coffee shop in 1945 was east of Hemphill at 614 Magnolia Avenue.
A century ago the Sealy Building at 801 South Main housed the grocery store of Alex J. Sandegard (see 1920 list below).
This building on the near South Side is on May Street, but the main house (in right background) faces West Leuda. The house was built in 1910 by brick contractor William Graham as his own residence.
Graham was secretary-treasurer of Innes-Graham Construction Company, which built the new Fort Worth High School on Jennings Avenue. The first high school would burn in December of that year.
About 1920 the Graham outbuilding was converted to house Graham Bros. grocery store. Because the Graham house was built in 1910, the outbuilding originally was a garage. (Photo from Amon Carter Museum.)
This building (1928) yoostabe Fuqua’s Supermarket on Evans Avenue.
Although the store was owned by Charles and Clarice Fuqua, the sign reads “Puqua.”
This 1927 building at 2673 East Vickery Boulevard made a career of housing grocery stores. First it was one of Jack Long’s Helpy-Selfy stores, then an A&P, a Safeway, and Lee’s Food Market.
The building that housed the Watson store, which survived from 1918 into the 1960s, is gone now. But these buildings survive:
In 1957 this building at 2918 East Rosedale Street was Safeway store no. 325.
On the near East Side, this building on the corner of Tennessee Avenue at 1201 East Leuda was built about 1911. It long ago lost its face: awning, windows, door.
But almost a century ago Adolph Schilder operated a grocery store in that building. It continued to be a grocery store into the 1930s. Next door lived ex-slave Hattie Cole.
In the 1930s this was the neighborhood grocery of A. B. Boles on Northwest 22nd Street on the North Side.
On the West Side the building that today houses Carter Bowden Antiques at 4704 Bryce Avenue at Camp Bowie Boulevard was Donley & Walker Grocery & Variety Store in the 1920s and 1930s.
Bransom’s Thrifty Supermarket on Wichita Street near Oaklawn Elementary School.
On Nashville Avenue at Avenue B across from Meissner Funeral Home, this was an F&M Food Market.
At Mitchell and East Berry streets, the Village Food Mart is now a church.
On East Berry Street, this was an A. L. Davis supermarket.
Here are three more from a time when people went to the corner market, not the Central Market:
(Top) William Peavler opened a grocery store across from D. McRae Elementary School at the corner of Millet and Bishop streets in 1920 in a building dating to 1915. It is now a residence.
(Center) John Beckelman ran his grocery store on Little Street from 1932 to 1953. He lived next door.
(Bottom) W. R. Hester ran a grocery store across Alston Avenue from Daggett Elementary School in a building dating to 1922.
Its footprint looks tiny now, considering the treasures it once held. This is the foundation of William B. Collup’s grocery and market at the corner of Bishop Street and Avenue N, across the street from D. McRae Elementary School.
The writing on the left wall is: “W.B. Collup Gro. & Mkt./Ernest McGhee/and His Showband/Coming Soon.” Ernest McGhee is a veteran local musician. (Photo from Tarrant County Historic Resources Survey.)
They tell me that Collup’s sold groceries. But many of us boys knew Collup’s as the nearest fix for our addiction: baseball cards. I diverted all my lunch money from the cafeteria at D. McRae to the register of Collup’s for six years, buying baseball cards (and that gum you could shingle a roof with). I graduated weighing eighty-seven pounds, but by God and Gehrig, I had me a genuine Mickey Mantle card! Of course, for every Mickey Mantle I unwrapped, I unwrapped seventy Joe Nuxhalls.
Neighborhood grocery stores are largely history now. But some of the buildings where they yoostabe remain, reminding us of a time when doctors made house calls, drugstores had soda fountains, gas stations were full-service, and heroes batted cleanup in Yankee Stadium.