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Memories of grocery stores from all around York County, both chains and mom-and-pop shops

When we talked about memories of the York County Shopping Center last week, we talked about the two grocery store spots that had been in that center, and I mentioned I’d have more grocery memories to come.

Well, here they are, as promised! There are many – from all around the county – so I hope you’ll settle in for some grocery-reading fun!


(Earlier A&P posts: Memories of grocery-shopping at the A&P and More memories of former A&P groceries, plus a location correction.)

Jim Brezler writes, “My father Gibby Brezler was the Produce Manager at the A&P, at 450 East Philadelphia Street, back when I was born in 1951. We lived in the 700 block of East Philly and he’d walk many days being only three blocks away. My mother would take my older brother and younger sister and myself there on a Friday night to get our weekly supply of tasty morsels. As we grew older both my brother Mike and myself had the experience of working for the same company at this same location when we were in high school. I think it was the late 1960 when they opened a new A&P out on East Market Street in the area of WalMart. That is where my Pop retired from after 40 some years of service. There also was one on Edgar Street. Many great memories and lots of fun with Tim & Jessica. Many great stories.”

Related to that, our family friend Connie Morningstar said, “I remember working with Gibby when I was in high school at 450 E. Phila. St. He was a good worker and coworker. We had a great family at the store, I was the youngest but my co-workers were super. We had a lot of different events with some shoppers. Mr. Young was the manager, who was the greatest. Every Sunday he would drive around York collecting shopping carts all over the city. One particular worker was Mary Mundis, that women had such a humorous personality, she could make a bad day end up being a great day. There are so many employess that I would want like to talk about but maybe later. Loved working at A&P.”

So many employee stories! I also heard from Jim Williams, who said of the East Philadelphia Street A&P, “My father James R. Williams was asst. mgr there for years. Manager was E. Fraley then Mr. Young. Mr. Brezler was my father’s friend and our families were friends, they worked together for a long time. Before that store there was an A&P just east of Queen Street on Phila. St. next to what became a Kohr’s custard on the corner of Phila & Queen. When they went to (the 450 E. Philadelphia St. location), I do not know. Next to that A&P was a gas station, I believe it was Miller’s. Used to play in the garage around the in floor service pit with Brezler and Allen Schraeder. No lifts in those days.”

And Jim W. continues, “Gibby Brezler’s son, Allen Schraeder and I along with others joined the U.S. Navy on July 4, 1955 at Kutztown Folk festival. If I remember right there were about 150 recruits sworn in and we were bussed to Bainbridge, Md. Mr. Brezler and family along with my family and many others were in attendance. Maybe some in the area remember The Distelfink Battalion”.

Brenda James said she also remembered an A&P in the parking lot of the York Mall on the Northern Way side.

And I heard from Audrey Lerew who mentioned that what we’d earlier talked about as a possible A&P where Print O Stat is now, was actually a Food Fair, where her husband and mother-in-law had worked.

Audrey also added, “I did write that there was an A&P next to the Farmers Market on West Market Street. By the address, it seems to be where the parking lot is located for the market. … Have you any pics of A&P that was at 366 W. Market St. or Heilman’s Grocery Store on Penn St. that was attached to the farmers market?” I don’t, Audrey, but if anyone does, please share!

Food Fair

(Earlier Food Fair posts: Mail call: Ruminations from the desk of an ‘ole geezer’ and Mail call: Questions about Food Fair supermarkets.)

This was a fun one for me, because while shopping in an antique store in Adamstown, northern Lancaster County, on Valentine’s Day, I found the neat Food Fair promotional needle holder that’s pictured here today!

Now, Food Fair is a store we’ve talked about many times.

Gloria Patterson said, “My ex-husband’s uncle worked for Food Fair for many years in the sixties and seventies. The corporation became Pantry Pride, I believe, in the late seventies or early eighties.”

And John Loeper writes, “The first Food Fair I can remember was located at W. Philadelphia and Beaver Streets. I also remember there was located on W. Market just west of Richland Ave.” (That was the one Audrey mentioned!) John continues, “I do remember that the J.M. Fields store at the North Mall had a Food Fair inside… so maybe both stores were owned by the same company?”

Jo Ott writes, “I remember shopping with parents at the FF on Philadelphia St. and then going across the street to Central Market, but we left the area in 1957 so I don’t know of any others around York.”

And Jason Gross said, “The first Food Fair my parents shopped was the one at W. Market and Richland. Before that all our groceries were bought at Blue Bell Market on the square in Dover, before that was remodeled and re-named, they bought most foods at Snelbecker’s grocery on S Main St. Does anybody remember that Food Fair did not give out S&H Green Stamps, but had Merchants Green Stamps?”

Audrey Lerew, who had talked earlier about Food Fair, said, “My husband started at Food Fair when he was 16 years old working as a porter. That was when people who lived within two blocks of the square got their groceries and the porter delivered it to their house and loaded your car for you. He also used to push a grocery cart to the bank in the square and brought back the money in the cart. Can you see that happening today? He also worked at the Food Fair in Hanover and Columbia. Then he was transferred to York County Shopping Center where Red Lobster stands today. While there, one morning before opening, some guys came in and locked the employees in the meat locker. They wanted someone to open the safe, but no one had the combination till the manager would come in prior to opening. Eventually they got scared and left and never came back or was caught. No one was harmed. They hid their money and credit cards in between the packs of meat. Then he was transferred to Pantry Pride at J.M. Fields and worked there till closing. He was there for 18 years, and then I got him in at United Defense (now BAE systems) where I worked. They were a union grocery store. They had a retail clerks union and a meat cutters union.” I had no idea there was a store on-site there, Audrey, how cool!

I also heard from Ken Darone, who writes, “When I was a teenager in the late ’30s or early ’40s, I recall a Food Fair that opened on Roosevelt Ave across from the old York Mfg Co. (where I worked for 43 years). That building was originally an auto repair shop. This Food Fair did extend back to North Penn St. I think this was the first Food Fair in York?”

And finally for this chain, I heard from Phil Rhoads, who said, “I worked part time at the Food Fair Store on the corner of Beaver St & Phila. St. when I was in school. Later I worked at the A&P Store on East Phila. St and at the one on Edgar St. I later helped open the Acme Food Store on Queen St. in the small shopping center at the top of the hill of Queen St.”


Speaking of Acme, I have more info on that as well! Jim Fahringer wrote about Acme, “Thank you for enlightening us on this supermarket. Indeed I now remember the grocery store at the southeast corner of the York County Shopping Center where the Red Lobster Restaurant is today was a Food Fair and I think it did become a Pantry Pride. I remember the Acme store well, which stood in the very northwest corner of the York County Shopping Center. It was an Acme store for quite a while. It, too, may have become another supermarket after the Acme store closed or moved. I think there was another brand name supermarket in there after the Acme left but I can’t remember the name. I often remembered going shopping there on a Friday night (it seemed that many families did their grocery shopping on Friday evenings in those days – I guess because our parents just got paid). I would shop with my mom for what seemed like hours. When we would exit, my mom always bought my sisters and me a candy bar or two to make up for the long shopping ordeal. We would then go home and I would watch the Friday Nights Fight (boxing) with my father and enjoy some of the snack food we just bought at the Acme Supermarket.”

Pantry Pride

Our other York County shopping center memories centered around the Pantry Pride that came after Food Fair.

Stephen H. Smith of YorksPast said, “I agree that the grocery store where the Red Lobster Restaurant is today was a Pantry Pride in 1972. This grocery store began as a Food Fair when the York County Shopping Center opened. I was in Food Fair from a young age because this is where my Mom did her grocery shopping. In 1972 I had just graduated from college, but still frequently shopped at this shopping center. … I also agree that the grocery store on the west corner of the north side section of the shopping center was originally an Acme Markets, however by 1972 it had become the new and expanded location for Rogers Toys. Rogers Toys was originally in a much smaller store located near the Food Fair. After the move, Rogers Toys was almost like a forerunner of Toys R Us, a toy store in a grocery store atmosphere.”

John Loeper agreed, saying, “I am pretty sure that grocery store at the York County Shopping center was a Food Fair. There was another grocery store at the other end of the center,” he said, referring to the Acme.

And Don Bubb also remembered Pantry Pride. He wrote, “This chain was owned by Food Fair and came to York as the company started closing the Food Fair stores. There was also a Pantry Pride next to J.M. Fields store in North York where the off-track betting is located. I worked at that Pantry Pride during my senior year in high school (1964-64). Both of my parents also worked for Food Fair and Pantry Pride over the years. When the Pantry Pride closed in the York County Shopping Center it was opened as Food Warehouse. My father also worked there as meat manager.” Brenda James also remembered the North Mall Pantry Pride.

Thomas Jones said, “My last 2 years in high school, 1969 and 1970, I worked at (the York County Shopping Center) Pantry Pride. Formerly it was called Food Fair, but later in the ’60s the name was changed to Pantry Pride. There were several Pantry Prides in the area, one also being at the Queensgate shopping center. Eventually the chain went belly up and closed in Pa. I was a bagger and cart retriever and I remember that this was the coldest and windiest corner in York County.”

Richard Nye remembered both Food Fair and Pantry Pride, as well as the Acme, Rogers Toys and many other York County Shopping Center stores. So did Sandy Abel, who wrote of Pantry Pride, “We used to take our five children shopping when we grocery shopped. That was our big event of the week.” I bet it was, Sandy!

Warehouse Food Market

There were several other people who recalled the “Warehouse Food Market” incarnation of Food Fair/Pantry Pride. Brian Housseal, Mike Teixeira and Brenda were among those; Brenda used to work at Warehouse Food Market.

Theresa Ruppert wrote, “I read with interest … the article on the York County Shopping Center. I do know that a store named York Warehouse Food Market was in the same location as Red Lobster. As a teenager I worked there for a few years while I was in high school. This was 1976-1978, but I am not sure when it opened for business. I joined the military immediately after graduation, and it was still open after that.”


(Earlier Pathmark posts: Over the Hills to Pathmark and more memories of Pathmark.)

Oh, this is one of my favorites. When my parents moved to York County in the 1970s, there were VERY few places around where you could buy pepperoni. Pathmark was the one we could get to, so to Pathmark we went for our pepperoni and our No Frills dog food!

Arthur also shopped Pathmark for a hard-to-find item. He writes, “What I liked about Pathmark was that I was able to buy cow’s tongue. You might be able to get pickled tongue at market, but cow’s tongue you could buy in the deli department. You would buy that the same way you would buy a pound of roast beef or turkey breast. I don’t believe there are any places here in York that you can now buy that. Used to love having that when I lived in New York.”


Randy Garbrick noted, “My parents also shopped at Kline’s in Possumtown. They would cash my dad’s payroll check also. ($24 in 1960). When we started to go to York County Shopping Center, he would still stop at Kline’s, buy something small to get his check cashed and then head on out to the big chain stores, but Kline’s was still always a Go-To for quick needed items like today’s convenience stores are.”


Dick Sweitzer mentioned, “I enjoyed reading your article on Howard’s Grocery as I lived just across the alley on Eberts Lane.”

And Lillian Hoffman said of Howard’s, “When I was growing up and attending Roosevelt Elementary School in the late ’40s, early ’50s, the small grocery store was right across the street from the school and I passed it every day. Sometimes my neighbor Colleen and I would get a nickel or some pennies from home and stop in, mostly on the way home. There was a penny candy counter there and a penny bubble gum machine that dispensed bubble gum balls. If you received a striped one, you could redeem it for 2 cents, and if you were really lucky and got a spotted one, you could get 5 cents. Mr. and Mrs. Howard lived there in the attached house and ran the store. We walked to and from school twice a day, since we went home for lunch.”


Carolyn Sue KeAla Waiola Brenneman shared, “The enclosed pictures are 1968-1969, Kelly’s Grocery Store, 636 Dallas St.” She said the woman pictured is Cora Lydia Shenberger Kelly, and the man is Paul Wilson Kelly. Carolyn said her grandparents moved into the store in 1932 and the store was something of a “counseling center” in the neighborhood during World War II! Here are her photos of Kelly’s:

Also, I heard from Patricia Spangler, who wrote, “I remember Kelly’s Grocery store, I used to live on Dallas Street when I was a teenager, I am now 71 years old. We kids loved it, back when it was like family, and we could still buy penny candy. Wow do I ever feel old! I am sure my younger brother and sister also remember it.”

Terry Staley wrote, “Reading your column about Kelly’s Grocery Store brought back memories of my childhood. We lived on the 900 block of East Maple Street which consisted of two houses that were semidetached. I used to make many trips to the store for my mother. To get there, I had to cut through a neighbor’s yard, which I had permission to do. In addition to the various grocery items I picked up, my mother was a seamstress and she made slipcovers and draperies and was a regular customer at Kelly’s because they had a case of sewing thread in a variety of colors. I am sure she was their best customer for thread and they kept the display fully stocked, maybe just for her. I feel I was one of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly’s favorites because they always saved plate blocks of postage stamps for me when the postman delivered a supply of stamps for their customers. Back then stamps were 3 cents and it was a big expenditure for me when I paid 12 cents for a plate block of stamps. I remember the Kellys as kind and caring individuals always making me feel special and making them very special to leave that kind of impression on an eight year old kid who remembers them 60 years later.”

Bonnie Smith agreed. “In regards to Kelly’s grocery store, I lived a few doors away from the store as a child and shopped there frequently. I knew Mr. & Mrs. Kelly and they were very nice people. I really missed the store when they went out of business.”

Other neighborhood grocery stores

Many of the folks who shared other memories today recalled other local stores as well.

From Patricia Spangler, “There were quite a few little grocery stores in the general area; Ferree’s (Rodger and Anna) on Prospect Street, really fresh cut meats, and friendly atmosphere. Waltermyer’s, also on Prospect Street, my older sister especially loved the big dill pickle jar, help yourself. Waltermyer also had a small store on Vander Ave. A little tiny place on Courtland St. and some alley corner. Thanks for the memories!”

And Dick Sweitzer wrote, “Gilbert’s Grocery was at Phila & Albemarle. Also Senft’s Grocery was on Phila between Lehman and Eberts Lane. I remember the store at Phila & Hartman but don’t remember the name. I know it had a soda fountain as I got a sundae there compliments of a neighbor that I was playing pranks on. This was probably in 1947.”

Shirley Monroe remembered some of the same ones Dick did. She wrote, “I believe Gilbert’s Grocery Store was located at the corner of Philadelphia & N. Albemarle Streets; there was also a Senft’s Grocery Store at E. Philadelphia & N. Lehman Streets; Lowe’s Grocery Store was at S. Albemarle & Wellington Streets. In the northwest section of York City there were grocery stores located at: Darr’s on Union Street; Botterbush’s and later Beck’s at Smith St. & Jefferson Ave.; for many years Foster’s Grocery Store was located in the 200 block of Park Place. It seems there was also a grocery store at N. Pershing & Jefferson avenues. There was also a little restaurant at Union & Smith Streets that was operated by Chick Schaeffer. Many times my grandparents gave me a nickel to buy an ice cream cone, yes five cents!”

And Phil Rhoads added, “Has any one mentioned Lehr’s Grocery Store at the corner of Market & Sherman Sts. located on the northeast corner in front of the church & across the street on the southeast corner was the PA Sate Police Barracks. My dad had an account at the Lehr’s store and we could to the store and charge food to his account, can you do that today?”

Not hardly, Phil!

Many thanks to ALL who shared their grocery memories! They’ve been a ton of fun!

1 comment on “Memories of grocery stores from all around York County, both chains and mom-and-pop shops

  1. Jim Brezler spoke about the A&P on East Philadelphia St and his father worked there. My father Paul Kahley use to work there also part time for many years. I rember the Brezler family. Our family lived in the 700 block of Wallace St right in back of Philadelphia St. My father worked full time at Standard Register. He left the A&P and began working par time at Wagners Butcher Shopat the corner of East Phila and Franlin Sts. Paula Kahley

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