|Raritan's Mom and Pop Stores|
|Mom-and-Pop Grocery Stores and Bakeries such as Costa’s Market, Tarangelo’s, and The Schaub Bakery were a major part of daily life in Raritan for half a century. But today there is practically no evidence that they ever existed. Local history publications and Raritan historic photo collections contain almost no photos of any of these stores. One can look through piles of old local newspapers and not find a single ad for these stores. So this author’s goal is that this article and accompanying website ensures that Raritan’s Mom-and-Pop stores will not be forgotten.|
|Costa's Market at 37 First Ave.|
|Mom-and-Pop stores were single location stores that were owned and operated by one family. Most owners lived in the back or upstairs of the store.
For the store name, they simply used their last name. These stores were “products of their time” as a grocery store with a small inventory of goods, little to no parking, and a policy of selling cigarettes to children would not remain in business very long today. But the Mom-and-Pop Grocery Stores and Bakeries of yesteryear thrived for decades.
|Thelma Costa poses with a display|
|From the turn of the century till around 1955 there were at least a dozen (sometimes over two dozen) small Mom-and-Pop stores in Raritan. These were scattered about town - some in residential neighborhoods - places where they would be prohibited today. There were stores on Codington Street, Elmer Street, and Victoria Street. Nearly everyone lived close enough to a store so if you forgot something that you needed minutes before dinner you could just zip out on foot and be back before the food got cold.|
|The Mom-and-Pop stores had no shopping carts as all purchases could usually fit in one bag. People shopped most every day - purchasing food only for that day’s meals. There were no freezers in the home and the refrigerators of the day (ice boxes) did not hold very much so no one stocked up on food.|
|The Hudak Grocery Store|
|Perhaps the biggest difference between now and then is that some of the shoppers were young children. It was common for a child as young as six to be sent by themselves to the local store that was a block to two away. The child, armed with only a note from his mom to ward off potential predators, always seemed to arrive at the store safely. The clerk rather than calling “Child Services”, as they might do today, simply took the note, filled the grocery bag, and sent the child on his way reminding him to say hello to mom.|
|The inside of Costa's Market|
|Store owners knew most of their customers and their families. Shopping and socializing were one in the same. The stores were almost always accessible.
Since the owners lived in the building, if a customer arrived late in the evening when the store was closed a simple tap on the window or door could usually get the
owner to open up for his neighbor and loyal customer.
Many owners offered credit to their customers. This was not through credit cards, but a log book would be kept at the front to record purchases. Collecting the balance was not a major problem as most people back then would have been ashamed not to pay their bills.
|Monti Costa outside his store.|
|The Raritan stores and their owners were an active part of the community.
During World War II they co-sponsored ads for Bond Drives.
When John Basilone won the Congressional Medal of Honor for Killing 38 Japanese Soldiers,
Costa’s Market put up a window display with 38 Japanese graves and a picture of Basilone.
|As the U.S. entered the 1950s changes in society started pushing aside the Mom-and-Pop grocery stores.
Large supermarkets sprang up on the main roads. These new stores had “economies of scale” that enabled them to offer lower prices.
By the 1950s most consumers owned cars allowing them to travel to go food shopping. And in the home modern spacious refrigerators with freezers allowed people
to store the large amount of groceries they purchased at the supermarkets.
By the end of the 1950s about half of Raritan’s Mom-and-Pop stores were gone. By the mid-1960s only a few survived. The last two surviving true Mom-and-Pop “Grocery” stores in Raritan were Costas - which closed around 1979 - and Kiszonak’s - which held on till around 1982. Two of the Mom-and-Pop “Bakeries” survive in a different format to this day. Delucia’s Bakery continues as Delucia’s Pizza (they converted to pizza in the mid-1950s). And the location that once had the Schaub Bakery, after changing owners (and names) and being closed twice, still has a bakery in that building.
|Some of the original owners of the Mom-and-Pop stores have descendants in town today. The son of the owners of the Hudak Grocery Store, Tony,
is the former mayor and councilman in Raritan. The Danyluk Grocery Store was started by the great-grandparents of newly elected councilwoman Bryanna Danyluk.
The building that once housed the Giaquinto’s Market is now occupied by Giaquinto granddaughter Katherine Howes who uses it for her law office.
If anyone has photos of any of these stores that they would like to share please contact Bruce Doorly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Below is a list of the Mom-and-Pop Stores of Raritan with their location and approximate years open.|
|Raritan's Mom and Pop Grocery Stores and Bakeries|
Note on years open. Those below with an * is the year that the store is first (or last) listed in a surviving business directory.
We have scattered surviving business directories. 1914, 1917, 1920, 1924, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1937, 1942, 1948,
1951, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1966, 1970, 1975, 1979, 1982, 1984. Thus the years shown are just approximate.
The stores shown open as early as 1914 (or 1917) could have opened much earlier, but we have no directories to reference.
72 West Somerset St.
1883 - 1953
Corner of Victoria and Sherman
1948* - 1970*
|Bartolucci's / Jay's Market|
105 First Ave.
1942* - 1948*
33 Thompson St.
1942* - 1954
|Cardarelli's / Tony's|
38 Anderson St.
1942* - 1970*
|Angelotti's / Costa's Market|
37 First Ave.
Became Costa's in 1939
30 Thompson St.
1917* - 1955*
1 First Ave.
1916 - present (converted to pizza in the 1950s)
54 Second St.
1948* - 1955*
34 Tillman St.
1942* - 1955*
26 Anderson St.
1914* - 1955*
|Hudak's Grocery Store|
20 Elmer St.
1929* - 1931* and 1942*-1959*
45 Thompson St.
1914* - 1982*
|Longordo's Bakery Location #1|
42 Thompson St.
1914* - 1942*
|Longordo's Bakery Location #2|
Bakery was in the back building. You can still see the chimney used by the oven.
1937* - 1948*
|Petras's Grocery Store|
28 Codington St.
1902 - 1957
34 Thompson St.
Building (obviously) gone
1914* - 1942*
11 West Somerset St. (Building Gone)
1942* - 1955*
53 First Ave.
1929* - 1966*
17 Anderson St.
1927* - 1961*
|Troisi's' Bakery (Zorillo Bakery 1972-1979) |
Bakery was in the back garage
21 Anderson St.
|Williams / Lopreato|
37 West Somerset St.
1942* - 1961*
18 First St.
1931* - 1951*