Essay

Mom and Pop No More

With the end of Prohibition in 1933, the movement of population to the suburbs in the late 1940s and 1950s, and the introduction of self-service supermarkets, the era of mom-and-pop grocery stores drew to a close. Some families modernized and expanded their stores, while others shifted to the liquor business. Many followed their customers to the spreading suburbs.

Snider Super Foods

In 1937, the Snider family moved from a small grocery store on 4 1/2 Street, S.W., to the Four Corners shopping mall at Colesville Road and University Boulevard in Silver Spring, Maryland. Today, their family-owned store on Seminary Road still serves the community.

The mid-thirties also saw the beginnings of regional chains of groceries, pharmacies, and hardware stores.

Jumbo Foods

In 1929, Irving Herman and his wife Toby opened Herman’s Cut-Rate Market on U Street, NW. By the 1940s, Irving and his brother Kenneth had opened several additional stores, and had partnered with Samuel Levin to create the chain Jumbo Foods. Shoppers Food Warehouse, a no-frills grocery chain, followed in 1979. Family members began selling their stakes in the business in 1988, and the family’s remaining interest was sold in 1997.

JHSGW Collections

Giant Food

In 1936, Nehemiah Cohen and Samuel Lehrman chose Washington for their new business venture and opened the first Giant self-service supermarket at Georgia Avenue and Park Road, NW. In 1974, the 100th store opened and Giant had grown into a regional chain. The company was sold in 1998 to a major international conglomerate.

Courtesy of Giant Food, Inc.

Giant Supermarket in Bethesda, Maryland

Giant Supermarket in Bethesda, Maryland

Stores that remained in the center of Washington faced new challenges, most seriously, riots that erupted following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. Many Jewish-owned businesses along 7th Street, NW, 14th Street, NW, and H Street, NE, were destroyed. Despite efforts by the Jewish Community Council and other agencies to assist them, most storeowners closed their doors permanently. 

Weinstein sisters

Harry’s Meat Market at 31st and Upshur Streets in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, was one of the last surviving Jewish-owned mom-and-pop grocery stores in the Washington area. Leah and Harry Weinstein opened the store in 1924 and were original members of DGS. Their daughters Ruth and Vivian ran the store until 1995.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Ruth and Vivian Weinstein

« Previous Page · Next Page »