Before supermarkets, people patronized a variety of stores to shop for the staples of daily life. Sometimes, in fact, staples were delivered to one’s doorstep.
Specialty food stores have made a modern comeback, true, but it’s an option for today’s shopper. In “the old days” making separate stops at the butcher, baker, fishmonger, etc., was the only way to shop.
My mother, who turned 94 in November, was kind enough to make a list of the places she and her mother went when she was a young girl. She also noted the businesses that made home deliveries.
The milkman would deliver fresh milk and cream. A trip to Zucca’s Bakery was necessary for bread and, occasionally, bakery treats. The ice man would make regular deliveries because not many people owned an electric refrigerator at the time. The Morello meat truck would visit with fresh cuts and ground beef. My mother grew up on a poultry farm; the egg man would come by to pick up the daily output. A truck from Frasco and Cavallo brought chicken feed.
The laundry man would come by to see if any dress clothes needed cleaning or mending. The insurance man would visit to collect payments. Mr. Lipman would stop by once a week with sewing needs – thread, needles and a selection of fabric. The fish man would also visit once a week, on Friday, of course. The newspaper would come daily and the coal company would come by regularly with deliveries.
And each would bring news of what was going on around Vineland. Social media, 1930s style.
Trips to town might include a visit to Morvay’s Market for fresh produce and Friedman’s Bakery for fresh rye bread.
Some might say that these processes were far from the convenience of supermarkets. And I might answer that unscrewing the cap from a wine bottle is far more convenient than pulling a cork. Generations have come and gone that have never experienced a life like that. I’d say that’s the cost of convenience.
Here’s a gallery of photos of vintage food stores and bakeries in New Jersey. And also, some links to similar galleries you’ll enjoy.