Cowtown Yoostabes, Mom-and-Pop Edition: Neighborhood Grocery Stores

Neighborhood grocery stores. Remember them? Not that long ago 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.


southwest turner 1929Robert 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 obit

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.

post office exchangeAs the ghost sign shows, this building (1909) on West Exchange Avenue near the Stockyards was Frank Brooks’s grocery store. Now Pearl’s Dancehall & Saloon.

grocery dillAlso on West Exchange Avenue, this building (1908) yoostabe the grocery of James F. Dill.

grocery safeway on main 1940 withc 45 cdEven 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.

safeway paris 45The coffee shop in 1945 was east of Hemphill at 614 Magnolia Avenue.

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 by brick contractor William Graham as his own residence.

graham contractGraham 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 may have originally been a carriage house. (Photo from Amon Carter Museum.)

grocery puquasThis building (1928) yoostabe Fuqua’s Supermarket on Evans Avenue.

look up evans 1928Although the store was owned by Charles and Clarice Fuqua, the sign reads “Puqua.”

grocery helpy selfy vickeryThis 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.

watsonstore2Typical of neighborhood grocery stores was the Watson family store on Fitzhugh Street in Poly. This article appeared in the Fort Worth Press in 1964. (Clip from Sherry Newman Mallory.)

The building that housed the Watson store, which survived from 1918 into the 1960s, is gone now. But these buildings survive:

safeway on rosedale 57In 1957 this building at 2918 East Rosedale Street was Safeway store no. 325.

grocery piggly wiggly college1930 pigglyIn 1930 half of Old Home Supply on College Avenue in Fairmount, as the ghost sign shows, was Piggly Wiggly store no. 15.

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.

grocery 614 nw 22 1930 bolesIn the 1930s this was the neighborhood grocery of A. B. Boles on Northwest 22nd Street on the North Side.

4704 bryceOn 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.

grocery bransoms thrifty withitaBransom’s Thrifty Supermarket on Wichita Street near Oaklawn Elementary School.

grocery nashvilleOn Nashville Avenue at Avenue B across from Meissner Funeral Home, this was an F&M Food Market.

grocery mitchell villageAt Mitchell and East Berry streets, the Village Food Mart is now a church.

grocery a.l. davis berryOn 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:

corner markets(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.

yoostabe collupIts 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.

collupThe 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 Historical Resources Survey.)

yoostabe cards

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.

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16 Responses to Cowtown Yoostabes, Mom-and-Pop Edition: Neighborhood Grocery Stores

  1. Beth Fitzgerald says:

    Tillery’s Grocery Store on Forest Park Blvd was a great independent grocer. Building is still in great condition located on the corner of Forest Park Blvd and Huntington Ln. Home of Griffith, Jay & Michel, LLP.

    • hometown says:

      There must have been hundreds of such small stores at one time and dozens of their buildings still standing. I grew up on the East Side and am personally familiar with only a handful that were in my neighborhood. But as I explore other parts of town I see little buildings that “look” like they could have been a neighborhood store in another life.

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