The Watertown Neighborhood Grocery Stores: Elk Horn Market
Elk Horn Markets was a small chain of Watertown neighborhood grocery stores with upwards of six locations, with at least one in Carthage, NY, which opened in 1922. The chain, headed by L. E. Reese, seemed to arrive on the scene around 1890 with a primary address of 17 Court Street but was soon relocated to 9 Arsenal Street. By 1923, they were located in the following areas noted below:
On November 20, 1924, the Watertown Daily Standard posted a short article about the sale of a Turkey that would have made Ebenezer Scrooge drool with envy, “a 46-pound turkey in the window of the Franklin Street Elk Horn Market is a fine specimen of the great American bird. A placard on the cage reads: ‘Sold to Jake Miller.'”
According to an incident reported in the Watertown Daily Standard on August 10, 1928—
Trio Of Lads Bring Home Cabbage “Grandma” Wanted
But While After It They’re Struck By Auto, Examined By Doctors and Get Two Free Rides in Police Patrol
Three little boys who started for the grocery store to by “grandma” a cabbage were struck by a car in Mill Street early last evening, taken to a doctor’s office, where it was discovered they had escaped injury, and eventually returned home with the cabbage and two policemen.
The boys, Clayton Barkley, 9, Francis Barker, 4, and Herbert Barker, 6, all of 210 Vale Street (sic), were attempting to cross Mill Street in the region of the Elk Horn Market. All holding hands, they darted into the street, thinking the way was clear, and ran into the patch of a car driven by Glen Guzewich of 155 Highland Ave., who was driving south in (sic) Mill Street.
The two Barker boys were thrown clear, but the Barkley youngster rolled under the machine, which stopped within four feet.
Watertown Neighborhood Grocery Stores
According to the Watertown Daily Times, there were as many as 87 neighborhood grocery stores operating in the city back in 1907 (a list from 1908 can be found here.) While there will always be a place for chains – some of them serving up a number of fond memories themselves such as the much-beloved Mohican, there’s something about the neighborhood stores and their place within our communities, and particularly our childhood memories, that made them endearing.
Over the years, more and more large grocery stores infiltrated the area offering more competitive pricing, and larger varieties of goods. A&P, Weston, Super Duper, P&C and many others have come and gone through the years and while the neighborhood grocery stores are (very) few and far between, if you look around, you still might see a little mom and pop store… somewhere.
In an ever-evolving world, it’s the chain stores themselves who now face stiff competition from the likes of large conglomerates such as Sam’s Club and Walmart, or the likes of Amazon.com. While some of them may be able to boast even MORE offerings and DEEPER discounts, they’ll never aspire to be, and thusly never match, the quaintness of the old neighborhood grocery stores.
As one astute commenter, Lee Crandall, wrote on the You Haven’t Lived in Watertown, NY if— Facebook page,
In most American cities our zoning laws have put this type of store out of business. So now we miss out on the interaction with neighbors, drive miles to a big box store, get less exercise, and waste fossil fuels to get the stuff that used to be at the corner store.
A list of neighborhood grocery stores in Watertown over the years includes the following below:
Academy St Market
Boora’s Soda Shop
Breen Avenue Market
Calendar’s Market on Factory
California Fruit Market
Clay Street Market
Cooper Street Market
Derrigo’s Fruit Stand
Gayle Street Market
General Store, Coffeen Street
Habeeb Bros. Red & White
Hickey’s Grocery Store
Holcomb Street Market
Johnnie’s Fruit Stand
LeRay Street Market
Meadow Street Market
Rocky’s Fruit Stand
Rutland St. Market
Sowans on State and High St.
Tony’s Fruit Stand