Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Food Fair

While looking at some old October 1955 Lorain Journal microfilm at the library, I saw a huge ad for a grocery store called Food Fair. Above is a portion of the ad, showing the various locations of the stores in Lorain, Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake, Avon and Vermilion.

I found this interesting because although Food Fair had a lot of locations in the area, the chain disappeared without a trace locally in the early 1970's.

Image courtesy of www.groceteria.com
An online search for information about the forgotten grocery store chain proved inconclusive.

According to this wiki entry, there once was a national chain called Food Fair that had over 500 units. And this blogger even has some great images of a chain of Food Fair supermarkets. (A promotional Food Fair needle pack is shown at left.)  But the huge, sleek Food Fair stores on those websites don't seem to correspond with the Mom & Pop stores in the Journal ad.

To prove my point, here are how a few of them look today. (Click on each for a larger view.)

Shown below is the former Jacoby Food Fair at 1149 Oberlin Avenue. In the early 1950's it was Jacoby Brothers Meats before becoming a Food Fair around 1954; by 1972 it was the Oberlin Eagle, part of the Eagle chain of small supermarkets (not to be confused with Giant Eagle.)

I think of a false-front movie set western saloon when I look at this store.

Here's Jeancola's Food Fair, located at 2402 West Erie, at the end of Leavitt Road. It was just listed as a grocery store before becoming Jeancola's Food Fair around 1955. Similar to the Jacoby store, this market dropped its Food Fair affiliation around 1972 and became Jeancola Market.

Lastly, and closest to my home, this is the former Gang's Food Fair at 4646 E. Lake Road in Sheffield Lake. It appears to have been built as a grocery store and appeared as Gang's Market in the city directory for the first time in 1954. It became a Food Fair the following year and lasted until around 1970 when the building became vacant. Two years later it became the well-remembered Ilg TV and even later became Schuenemann Television Appliance Center. After that small chain of a appliance stores closed, it has had a variety of uses in the last decade. The latest proposal? It is tentatively slated to be the location of the first internet café in Sheffield Lake.

As you can see, none of these stores seem to have any sort of visual connection with the national Food Fair stores seen on the websites indicated above. Also, none of them share a strong Food Fair brand strategy. Each simply listed the owner's name or some other identifier, followed by the words 'Food Fair'.

I could be wrong, but my guess is that this Food Fair group of stores was a small regional chain that got around the legal aspect of sharing the name with a national company by tacking on the owner's name, etc. Whatever the case, the name Food Fair disappeared locally by 1972.

Perhaps someone associated with one of these local stores can shed some light on this subject. If anyone out there does have some connection with the Food Fair chain, please leave a comment below. Thanks!


-Alan D Hopewell said...

I recall the Manhattan Food Fair, which was a couple blocks from our house; it became the Manhattan Market in the early 60's, and closed in the 70's.

FLIGNER'S in Lorain is an Eagle Market, as I recall.


Bill said...

The Avon address corresponds to the vacant lot on the northeast corner of Colorado and Detroit, which later became a gas station (Sohio?) and is now the parking lot for the Nemo Grille at the Alten House (www.nemogrille.com)

Bill said...

Gilbert's apparently was in the old Hafely block by the address.

I seem to remember Jeancola's being an Eagle market (along with Fligner's). Maybe Food Fair became part of the Eagle markets? Were there ever Food Fair stamps like the Eagle stamps?

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! That's a good point about the possibility of Food Fairs converting to Eagle markets. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled in the microfilm for some 'we've changed our name' ads for some of those stores.

To read a nice local reminisce about Eagle stamps (which were like Top Value Stamps - remember the elephant?) follow this link:

danj said...

Dan Jeancola...
Wow does this bring back memories!

The Jeancola Grocery store was opened in the early 40's by my grandparents William "Bill" and Lucy. In the 50's they joined the Food Fair group and then the Super Eagle group in the 60's. With "big box" grocery chains opening around them, many neighborhood grocery stores needed bigger buying power to compete...and joining the groups offered them to do so.

The Jeancola Market was then passed on to my Uncle Bill and his wife Olga in the 70's ...and finally to my cousin Bill. Jeancola. It stayed opened until the early 2000's. Over 60 years!

In the early days it was where neighbors and friends gathered. It was the neighborhood "Social Network" where events and topics of the day would be discussed in the butcher shop...face to face.

Known for their meats, sausage, produce, deli, and Italian specialties you could always be assured it was fresh and made daily. My family would start their day a 6am...preparing for day's customers....6 and half days a week.

Hunters and fisherman would bring their fresh catches and wild game to the butcher shop to be dressed and cleaned when it was season. Local farmers would bring their homegrown crops to sell in the produce bins.

Customers would send their kids in to shop. Behind the checkout counter my grandmother Lucy had a receipt box with index cards, which had family names on them. The kids would check out and my grandmother would write the amounts down on the index cards of what what was purchased. No Visa, Mastercard, or American Express cards...just index cards.

The Food Fair logo picture you show in this article was a customer giveaway. It was a "needle and thread" kit. I found an old box of them before the store closed.

Unfortunately like all things...it's time passed. The local Lorain economy, "Super Grocery Retailers", and convenience stores spelled the death of the local "Mom and Pop" grocery store.

In today's retailing putting a face with a name and a purchase, now it only happens when someone checks your ID.

But, thanks to all of Jeancola Market's customers for so many years and for all the warm memories of the store while growing up!

Anonymous said...

food fair supermarkets was a chain of stores based in phila. pa. and a southern division based in miami, fla. the name changed to pantry pride.the entire chain went under due to poor management and all the stores finally closed in the early 1980's

Anonymous said...

The Clearview Food Fair building is still standing at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, in Sheffield Township, across Broadway and a little North from Clearview High School. It's a tattoo parlor now. There was (is?) an apartment in the back of the building which was my parents' first home when they got married in 1958.

Unknown said...

My dad was the butcher at gangs in Sheffield lake. Used to help him pump gas.