While many of us missed the convenience of the neighborhood markets, the changes in technology had changed the way people shopped by the late 1930s. The refrigerator allowed people to store greater quantities of food for longer periods of time, making it no longer necessary to shop on a daily basis. Access to cars was the second prong of technology to change the way people shopped as cars allowed people to travel further and carry home packages with more ease. In 1937 when the shopping cart was invented, it allowed shoppers the opportunity for greater self-service within the grocery store while also allowing them to purchase larger orders of groceries.
With increased transportation stores became larger and were able to import goods from far away locations. Thus the large variety of products available combined with self-service, and ease of parking thrived at the expense of the closure of many of the neighborhood grocery stores. Chain stores gained in popularity as they were able to change store layouts, locations and stock to accommodate new ways of shopping and cooking as women were looking for ways to shop more quickly and efficiently.
Most grocery stores became supermarkets and moved to locations where they could have larger buildings where shoppers preferred the self-service atmosphere with only a clerk present at deli counters and check-out lanes. The locations afforded sizeable parking spaces for customers making it easy to purchase large amounts of product at one time. In small communities like Perry, most neighborhood grocery stores went out of business by the mid-1940s though some lasted into the 1960s and 1970s. Specialty shops like Stoners’ Market (butcher shops) in Perry lasted somewhat longer. Chain stores now dominate the shopping experience. Even locally owned stores during the late 20th century became part of a franchise like Super Valu or IGA.
Jack Bruce Market/Sanitary Meat Market/Stoner’s Market was open continually for business from 1905 through 1999. This specialty store was located at 1301 Second Street (northwest corner of Second and Lucinda Streets. Jack Bruce opened the meat market in the early 1900s and was joined shortly thereafter by Harry Bruce. Around 1915 the brothers had a falling out and Jack moved his business to 919 Railroad Street and Harry continued his Sanitary Meat Market at 1301 second Street.
Harry Bruce was well-known for his generosity during the depression. He would offer food to anyone who would sweep the sidewalk in front of the store, no matter how many times a day it had been swept. George W. and Edward Stoner were employees of Harry Bruce and eventually took over operation of the market. The Stoner brothers took over ownership after Harry Bruce’s death in the 1950s operating it until the early 1970s when it was purchased by George E. Stoner and his wife Betty and daughter Susie operated the market until it’s closing in 1999. The market served many of the Perry food establishments, nursing homes and hospitals making daily deliveries of fresh meats and cheeses.
-John Palmer, Perry Historic Preservation Commission