Sweetheart Market was a family-owned store on the corner of Taft Road and Route 11 in North Syracuse, NY. It started as a small produce stand that was opened by Thomas Spinelli in 1945. By 1952 his son-in-law George E. Gelsomin bought the business, which now included their own Sweetheart Ice Cream.
Under Gelsomin's ownership, the stand grew and became a small corner store. Photos courtesy of Robert Henry, the North Syracuse Historian.
In 1979 a larger supermarket was built behind the corner store. The corner store was then demolished and the land used as a parking lot. George E. Gelsomin passed the business to his son, George T. Gelsomin, in the late 1980s. Sweetheart Market continued to provide a more friendly atmosphere than the larger chain stores, and thus was a favorite among many local residents.
In the mid-1980s Sweetheart Market and other locally owned stores formed a group called "Hometown Markets" to try and compete with the larger chain stores. The following commercials aired, in order, in 1985, 1986, the early 1990s and 1991.
The first job I ever had was at Sweetheart Market back in 1988. I made a whopping $3.35 an hour, which was minimum wage at the time. I brought my video camera to the store a couple of times to goof around and annoy my co-workers. Here are a couple of pictures I was able to capture from one of the videos dated December 3, 1988.
Posted below are some clips from my old home videos of Sweetheart Market. I've edited these down the best I could to only include shots of the store. The first one was filmed on December 3, 1988 and the second was filmed on April 15, 1989.
Financial reasons finally forced Sweetheart Market to go out of business on July 19, 2003. The supermarket was demolished and an Eckerd store was built in it's place.
My friend John and I went back to Sweetheart Market with my video camera on July 8, 2003, just weeks before the store would go out of business. Since the store had closed for the day, we intended to just get some pictures of the outside and film the sign near the road. We ran into George T. Gelsomin while we were filming and explained what we were doing. He was nice enough to open the store for us and let us film whatever we wanted. He also told some great stories about the history of Sweetheart Market. Posted below are a couple of pictures I captured from my video tape. They are, in order from left to right, the famous sign which still stands near the corner of Taft Road and Route 11, the front of the store, the rocking horse that had been in the store for as long as I can remember, a photo of George Jr. and Sr. receiving a community award, and the upstairs break room.
Here are two video clips from the July 3, 2003 footage.
In March 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to interview the former owners of Sweetheart Market, George T. Gelsomin and his father George E. Gelsomin, for the Syracuse Nostalgia Podcast. George T. was nice enough to share several old photos and newspaper articles from his collection. Here are his photos, most of which I had never seen before.
The first picture is from the 1970s, and is the only color photo I've seen of the original Sweetheart Market corner store.
The next two pictures are from 1979. In the second photo, you can see the new store being built behind the old store.
This picture of the front of the newer store, including Fay's Drug Store, is from the 1980s.
The next two pictures were taken in 1995. The first is of the famous Sweetheart Corner sign, and the second is of the bakery department in the store.
The newspaper article on the left is from January 16, 1980. The one on the right is from March 16, 1995.
Click here to listen to the interview with George E. & George T. Gelsomin on the Syracuse Nostalgia Podcast.
Sadly, George E. Gelsomin passed away on October 27, 2018 at the age of 97.
February 1, 1958 - Coffee For Polio
May 11, 1978 - A New Look for Sweetheart Corners?
May 25, 1978 - 'Sweetheart' Ruling Awaited
April 29, 1979 - Sweetheart Plaza to begin building
March 16, 1995 - Part 1 - A Real Sweetheart Of A Market
March 16, 1995 - Part 2 - North Syracuse landmark celebrating 50 years
June 11, 1997 - Part 1 - A Sweetheart of a corner (they weren't very clever at making up these headlines, were they?)
June 11, 1997 - Part 2 - Corner grocer is like an old friend
November 22, 2000 - Sweetheart Corner - A North Syracuse Landmark
2002 - Sweetheart lives, in spite of closing rumors (sent in by Mike Hepp)
July 4, 2003 - Sweetheart Market Will Close
July 2003 - Final Sweetheart Market flyer (sent in by Mike Hepp)
July 2003 - Sadness marks Sweetheart Market closing (sent in by Mike Hepp)
July 20, 2003 - Goodbye, Sweetheart
March 27, 2004 - Eckerd at Sweetheart Corner