WILLIAM GROCERY & MEAT FAIR
In 1934, Joseph F. William opened his first grocery store on the corner of North Salina and Laurel Streets in Syracuse, NY. In order to expand his store he moved it to a much larger location on Route 11 in North Syracuse in 1955. After Mr. William died in 1970, William Grocery & Meat Fair was managed by his son-in-law Sam Tassone.
The photo below is courtesy of the North Syracuse Historian, Robert Henry. Click on the photo to view it full size.
The store was greatly expanded in 1986, becoming the largest independent grocery store in northeastern New York. The covered parking area (which was also home for many local pigeons) was torn down and rebuilt to become the new front section of the store.
Thanks to Mike Hepp for sending in the following photo of the original William's Grocery roadside sign:
The following commercial aired in 1994:
In 1996, William Grocery was sold to Joe Peter of Peter's Grocery. Mr. Peter certainly did not endear himself to many North Syracuse residents in the years following this purchase. Starting with the purchase of William Grocery, he upset the owners of nearby Sweetheart Market. Just a short time before this happened a few local store owners, including Peters Grocery and Sweetheart Market, formed an organization called Hometown Markets to give them buying power to help compete against the larger chain stores (click here to see a Hometown Markets commercial from around 1991). Although it wasn't a written rule, the owners of Sweetheart Market thought that the members of Hometown Markets would avoid direct competition with one another. Joe Peter obviously didn't think this was the case, since his newly bought store was located directly across the street (Taft Road) from Sweetheart Market. Then, Mr. Peter upset many long time North Syracuse residents by demolishing the original William Grocery store (which had been a local landmark for 40 years) and rebuilding a new Peters store on the same property. Just a few years later, this new store was closed. Keep in mind all of these events happened within 5 years of each other. As a side note, the remaining Peters Grocery stores closed only a few years after this location closed.
The photos on this page are taken from a video tape that I recorded in 1999, after Peter's had purchased William's but before the original location had been demolished. Although the outside signs had been changed, the inside of the store remained mostly the same. If anyone has any photos of the old William's store please send me e-mail to the address at the bottom of the page.
The first photo below was taken in the Beverage Department looking towards the Pet Foods section, the second photo is looking at the Bulk Foods Department, and the third is some of the decorations above the International Section:
The photos below are from the Meat Department and Produce Department:
Because most of it was grown in their nearby William's Farm, William Grocery offered some of the best produce in the area. It didn't really matter that the spelling skills of their produce employees were sometimes not very sharp:
There was some great artwork to enjoy while shopping at William Grocery. The first photo below was from the Pet Foods section, the rest of them were in the Produce Department:
William's was also known for the various figures scattered throughout the store. The most famous of these was the large horse that stood on top of the store for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, this horse was gone in 1999 when I filmed this footage. I did, however, get good pictures of the "Stroehmann Bread Guy" and the "Kraft Cow" that were on top of their relative shelves in the store:
William Grocery had the best pizza in the area, second only to Pavones in Penn Can Mall:
Most of the stores that were connected to William's were still there in 1999. Pictured are Jak Liquors, North Syracuse Shoe Repair, and the Barber Shop:
Upon leaving the parking lot, I noticed the hard-hat-wearing Joe Peter, possibly trying to decide which North Syracuse landmark to destroy next:
UPDATE: June 20, 2011
I recently visited William's Farm in Cicero, NY and discovered many similar looking logos:
Now, I almost crashed my car when I drove by and spotted this at the side of the road:
Yes, they still have the horse! Click here to see a picture of the horse on top of the old William's store.
Now, I wonder if anyone else thinks that the following building looks familiar.
To me, this looks a lot like the old covered parking lot that you can see in the left hand side of this picture.
William's Farm was closed for the day when I arrived. But, having peeked in the door, I am going to have to go back to take some pictures inside the building. It looks almost exactly like the William's Grocery produce department.
Click on the links below to view some newspaper articles about William Grocery & Meat Fair:
4, 1969 - William's full page ad from 1969
June 3, 1984 - Part 1 - Family firm's supermarket growing
June 3, 1984 - Part 2
November 27, 1985 - William's expanding into 'super' market
October 29, 2002 - North Syracuse Landmark Lost (sent in by Mike Hepp)
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