My three older brothers and I worked locally in the grocery business. It was a great job for a teenager. My first job was at Royal Market in Culver City. My brothers worked at Lucky’s, Royal and Ralph’s, and Hillmart.
U.S. grocery stores are descended from trading posts, which sold not only food but clothing, household items, tools, furniture, and other miscellaneous merchandise. These trading posts evolved into larger retail businesses known as general stores; and later neighborhood markets and supermarkets. They are the heart of all towns and communities, and trading locally is fundamental to a town’s success.
I sure do miss Hillmart. It was a great “mom and pop” store. They were known for featuring Manning’s Beef, which was the very best money could buy. The Fireside on Lincoln Boulevard famous for prime steaks; now called Tompkin’s Square; also featured Manning’s Beef.
In Uptown Westchester until the 1970’s, the main grocery store was a Mayfair Market. It was also the home of the annual Westchester Easter Egg Hunt, held every Holy Saturday morning. Hundreds of kids would line up early and at 9AM the doors opened and in they rushed. Candy eggs were literally piled in the aisles of the market, and all you had to do was scoop them up. It was organized chaos.
In October of 1964, Arden Farms acquired the Mayfair Markets, thus becoming Arden-Mayfair, Inc., which later became a subsidiary of the Arden Group. Around the same time, Arden also acquired a small chain of supermarkets from the Gelson Brothers.
Mayfair was located, more or less, where the Blockbuster video store is today. It nearly burned to the ground on May 16, 1969 but was rebuilt. A few years later it was torn down and the entire shopping center was redeveloped.
From the 1960’s through the 2000’s, we annihilated most of the shopper’s choices in this town. Gone are; Hillmart (Pet store), Boy’s Market (condo’s?), Safeway (Pep Boy’s), Dorr’s Market (Arbor Vitae), Von’s La Tierja (discount store), Ralph’s Sepulveda (Staples), Thrifty’s (Citibank), Alpha Beta (Bristol Farms), Dales, Jr. (local market), Mayfair Market, and probably a few more that I missed.
There are thankfully a few local/specialty markets, such as Bristol Farms, Robert’s Market, Trader Joe’s, Howe Mart, The Produce Market, and so on, but other than the Baby Von’s, we now have exactly two supermarket shopping choices; Ralph’s Sepulveda (where Mayfair Market was}, and Ralph’s Lincoln (Shopper’s/Lucky’s). These are great stores, but the only two left standing, nonetheless.
Many local residents drive to neighboring towns to get their bread and milk.
If this happened in Russia, they would close the Duma and hang the guilty politicians.
Speaking of bread, this rambling correspondent is happy to report that we still have an operating “scratch” bakery in town. Westchester Bakery is located at 6216 W 87th St. and open seven days a week.
It’s just a few doors down from the little produce market (Karl’s Stationary and Toys), that just closed down and is now a dollar store. That’s walking distance to Spring Cleaners, the Coffee Company, Staples, Paco’s, El Tarasco, Runa Jewels, Curves Hair Salon, Larry King’s new Brooklyn Bagel Company, and dozens of other great local shopping spots and excellent banks, doctors and dentists and other professional services.
Everyone of us should patronize this bakery, and every single day the line to get in should run all the way around the block to Truxton’s.
VON’S MARKET, LA TIERJA-1950’s. Directly to the left of Von's you had; Ade's Pipe Shop. Other stores in this center included; Rite-Way Drugs, Hellman's Hardware Store, St Moritz Bakery, La Tijera Bootery, Crocker Citizen's Bank, Toy Castle, The King's X Restaurant, Jule's Auto Supply, Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors (still there and awfully good), and a Marina Federal Savings and Loan. The Van de Kamp’s bakery ladies dressed in cute little Dutch costumes with paper hats and they gave you a free cookie with a smile. (Complements, Westchester, California, author).