ME: Dad, can you tell me when the store opened, what it was called, when it closed, and what you did there? Any detail would be helpful.
DAD: Hoye’s Market opened in 1930, at the height of the Great Depression. The family resided in a 3 bedroom apartment above the store.
It was a small neighborhood market that catered to working class families that resided mostly in the neighborhood. It had a small stock of can goods, full produce line and custom cut fresh meats, fresh milk, breads, and pastries. It opened before frozen foods were developed. There were no shopping grocery carts. Each customer was waited on independently. It was before electronic calculators or calculators. Orders were “added” on the side of paper grocery bags. Individual attention was given to every shopper by a clerk who would put your shopping order together for you and then package it, add it up and collect payment.
Regular customers ran individual credit accounts that were usually paid on a weekly basis. Credit cards or personal checks were not in use.
Some customers traveled many miles (gasoline was .17 a gallon) for the “cut-to-order fresh meats and fresh produce”.
Hours were 8AM to 8PM Monday thru Sat. Busiest days were Fridays (payday) and Saturdays. Some customers shopped at the store at the same day and time each week, as if it was “their turn” to shop. Others met their friends there each week. Most of the customers were “on credit” and known by the owners (Mom and Dad).
I was expected to be available on Saturdays to help out where needed. My work consisted of stocking shelves, setting out produce and delivering orders (free delivery in the neighborhood). Before I was 16 and had a drivers license, I would deliver orders to homes in a delivery wagon. I also visited a few “shut-ins” or people who couldn’t physically come to the store, to take and deliver their weekly grocery order.
Occasionally, I would drive to the early morning wholesale produce warehouse to pick up orders waiting for Hoye’s Market. He personally selected the produce and each piece of meat. This was “personalized” quality control that appealed to his customers. He knew which cuts of meat would be selected by his regular customers and way they wanted it cut.
During WWII, my Dad had to take a job in a war plant and my mother ran the store until he got home about 4:00 PM. Hours were shortened to Tuesdays thru Saturdays. Some customers continued to come to the store on Mondays and would ring the door bell for the upstairs apartment and I would come down and wait on them.
At the end of WWII, food rationing was over and what was the “super market” era began. My father could buy the super market “lost leaders” cheaper than he could buy from his wholesale distributor. The neighborhood store was replaced by the larger, better stocked and sometimes cheaper super markets. Names like A & P (Atlantic & Pacific), First National and Piggly Wiggly, Stop & Shop, pushed the comprehensive small, family owned, neighborhood market to close. Hoye’s Market held on until about 1951, when the business was closed. It was interesting for me to note that the personalized individual credit accounts continued with weekly payments for another 3 years. Everyone paid-up!