Growing up, the bologna business was huge. Everybody was working, Cleveland was booming. At the steel mills, everybody was packing a lunch. Fridays and Saturdays, there'd be five or six of us in one stand just bagging stuff by the pound.
I was 12 when my grandfather died. He quit school to work in the market in the family business. He took over by the time he was 18, when my great-grandpa died [in 1919]. He was a sharp operator. The story goes, he did incredibly well during World War II in the black market, during rationing.
I could do a lot of things in this world, but I love it here: being my own boss, calling my own shots, talking to people.
Robert W. Stumpf, 75
Kitchen Maid – Apple Cured Meats
[low sodium pork chops, bacon, other cured meats]
I started here in 1950, running to the cooler. We didn't even have refrigerated cases then, just a slab of marble and a sneeze guard.
We had a lot of displaced people from Europe [after World War II]. They knew that if they came here, there'd be somebody here that would speak their language. Probably 50 percent of people came on buses or streetcars. A lot would walk. They'd come on a Saturday, pulling a wagon. Their kids would be coming with them. You couldn't hardly walk through the aisles on a Saturday.
My father was the personality of the market house. Customers would come and wait for him. I'd [say,] "Can I help you?" "We're waiting for your father."
Emery Bacha, 60
[carrots, spinach, asparagus, onions, sweet corn]
My father always instilled in us: "Don't worry about the dollar you're going to make today, worry about the dollar you're going to make tomorrow" — meaning that you want to keep your customers coming back.
I know most of my customers by name. [Some] have been with me for 20 to 25 years. They've invited me to their home for dinner. I've been invited to weddings. It's almost like a family.
I always did like the market, but I never thought this would be my career. But the economy was bad like it is now, and I was able to buy my own business. I'm the only one of my brothers and sisters that graduated college. [My father] wanted something better for me, but he accepted it.