Grocery shopping was a social event

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

As I waited in the check out line at the grocery store the other afternoon, my thoughts wandered back to the days when I tagged after my mother to buy groceries.

Because we still used an ice box back in the early ‘30s, we shopped often. Maybe buying less more often is why it always seemed like fun, not drudgery. Fewer customers and more grocery stores also probably contributed to the ease of shopping.

With a population of less than 1,000, Tustin had eight grocery stores. Three were located in the downtown area around the intersection of Main and D (El Camino Real). Continental Stores, a grocery with locations in several neighboring towns, occupied the D street side of the one story brick building on the southeast corner of the intersection. J.A. Dill had a meat market within the store. The building which had been constructed in 1924 with shops extending along Main Street was later sold to Edwin Cox who operated Cox’s Market and Tustin Food Center there for almost 30 years.

F.M. Carter was the proprietor of Carter’s Market just north of the intersection at 393 D. The space he occupied has disappeared in the expansion and remodeling of other stores on the block, but in 1931 it was near the middle of the block. This grocery store also had a separate meat counter with L.A. Riehl as butcher. C.O. Artz operated Artz Store less than a block to the west at the corner of Main and C in the building still distinguished by its elegant facade of pillars. Rutabergorz restaurant now occupies the site.

Several grocery stores were located in residential neighborhood. Housewives without cars could walk to them or send the children. Grivel’s Market, operated by Myrtle L.J. Grivel, was far from the center of Tustin on Newport Avenue south of Mitchell. The J.W. Scheffer family kept a small convenience market at 163 D Street between First and Second Streets.

First Street had three small groceries between Yorba and D Street. Mountain View Market at 453 W. First on the corner of Mountain View was known for its meat market. Mission Cash Grocery and Market was at 235 First, across from the north end of the Tustin Grammar School athletic field, now Peppertree Park. The two-story building had an upstairs apartment for the owner and his family. Close by, J.T. Morrison operated another neighborhood market at 385 W. First, scarcely a block from either Mountain View or Mission Cash groceries.

These locally owned stores were nothing like the super markets of today. They sold basic canned goods, dairy products, bread, some produce and meat. There were no fancy baked goods, no delicatessen counter with prepared food, no choice of “paper or plastic,” no carts and no extras such as postage stamps or dry cleaning.

Small and simple as they were, they had many advantages over today’s big establishments. The owners and the help knew and cared about the shoppers and their families. Each was a friend. Service was personal and friendly. Shopping was a social event, not a chore.

 

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