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Grocery Stores

The start of the grocery stores

The Californian - Sat - Mar. 14, 1914:

Oakland, March 14.-The millionaire colony of Piedmont, a suburb of Oakland, strenuously objects to the invasion of common commerce into their exclusive section of stately mansions, and to prevent it is building a co-operative grocery store. In this colony are 25 men worth from $2,000,000 up, and every one of them is a stockholder in the new concern, making it the richest "corner grocery" in the world.

Until now there has never been even a thought of a single shop or store, laundry or delicatessen, in all Piedmont. The restrictions under which the property was first sold kept them out. But now these restrictions are about to expire, and the Piedmontese are up in arms over possible invasion of grocery and butcher shops, which they say would detract from the beauty of the extensive grounds and homes of the district.

Consequently, the leading spirits of the millionaires in Oakland's exclusive suburb, none of them worth less than seven figures, have "conspired in constraint of trade" to erect a near co-operative emporium. The first structure of the series it is expected will be necessary is in course of construction. It is the unit number one in a series of shops that will coform to a harmonious architectural scheme and be an added ornament rather than a damage to the surrounding fine homes,

How the war will be waged against other enterprising shop keepers who attempt to crowd into the purlieus of wealth in competition with the millionaire-owned and managed shops at the "civic center," has not been stated but promoters of the plan want it distinctly understood that any such competitors will be regarded with a lacklustre eye.


The Los Angeles Times -

Sun - Nov. 30, 1913

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Nov. 29, 1913:


Co-operative Store of Exclusive Kind to Grace Fashionable Heights.

Home Was Never Anything Like This for an Egg. Eggs at 70 cents a dozen is too much for even a Piedmont millionaire. Exclusive Piedmont-It has been called storeless Piedmont is about to take a healthy swat at the menacing head of the bogey, "high prices," by opening and conducting a plebian grocer's shop.

Millionaires with a habit of Juggling millions are soon to Juggie eggs and other necessaries. Men who nonchalantly handle hundreds of thousands of dollars daily are preparing to sell "staple groceries" to their neighbors and themselves through the medium of a co-operative grocery.

Of course it is not to be known as a grocery store. It is to be the "Piedmont Commercial Center." Probably the finest home that an egg ever had in this world is to house the "Piedmont Commercial Center," No, It is to be no common ordinary grocer's store. It is to be a $10,000 villa. Albert Farr is the architect. He says that it will rival in tone and architecture the enormous mansions which are to surround it on every side.

Probably in no other place in the world is there such a grocery store as Piedmont is to have in about two months. Just glance down the list of names of the men who are to conduct its affairs:

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Wallace M. Alexander, millionaire sugar man, president; J. B. Richardson, wealthy attorney, secretary; Mark L. Requa, millionaire miningman; Robert J. Tyson, banker; Harmon Bell, corporation attorney and clubman; Lucien Norris and Will Robertson, capitalists, directors.

On the list of stockholders are such men as Samuel Taylor, Henry Adams and Harry Knowles, social favorites: James K. Moffitt, banker; Frank C. Havens, president of the Peoples Water Company; Wickham Havens, wealthy realty operator; State Senator Arthur H. Breed: Adolph Uhl, millionaire merchant; W. L. Sharon, capitalist.


The villa grocery is now being built. It is to be erected on the gore made by the Oakland Traction Company's tracks, Magnolia and Highland avenues. The ground was purchased several months ago with the understanding that any portion not used for the villa grocery is to be donated as the site for Rev. Stutchell's interdenominational church, which is to be of open-air construction.

Piedmont, with its beautiful mansions, the homes of millionaire business men of the bay cities, has long been known as the storeless city. No store of any kind has heretofore existed there. The city is rapidly growing, and one of the reasons for organizing the Piedmont Commercial Center is to discourage any future attempt to locate a grocery store within the city limits.

Through this plan the Piedmonters hope to keep commercialism out of the city's business life; they will confine the business activity to a villa instead of permitting untidy and commercial-looking places to exist; and last, but not least, they will direct a terrific blow at old man "High Prices."

Highland Ave

Highland Ave

Ainsworth Brothers, 348 Highland Ave

The Ainsworth Brothers were the first proprietors of the grocery store in 1915, (unverified)

Oakland Tribune - Wed - Apr. 3, 1940:

Death Strikes Henry Ainsworth
Henry C. Ainsworth, former deputy county assessor, pioneer grocer and a resident of Oakland for more than 44 years, died yesterday at his home, 1115 Market Street. He was 86.

Ainsworth operated his own bank in New York State before he came to Oakland. He served in the Alameda County assessor's office for 14 years, later joining his brothers, R. L. and the late D. S. Ainsworth, in founding the first grocery store in Piedmont.


The San Francisco Examiner - Sun - May. 20, 1917


Oakland Tribune - Fri - Sep. 15, 1922

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Oakland Tribune - Wed - Oct. 11, 1922


Oakland Tribune -Fri -

Jun. 5, 1925


Oakland Tribune - Fri -

Apr. 23, 1926

Hamby’s Market. 348 - 350 Highland Ave.

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Jun. 27, 1969:

FROM MEDFORD, Ore., comes a letter concerning the closing Hamby's Market in Piedmont, news of which appeared in this column the end of March.

The writer, Mrs. Howard Gang, explains the delay in her communique by noting that she was called to teach the last 10 weeks of the school term and that she also had the responsibility for all the senior activities.

"Perhaps it's my teaching of Modern Problems which compels me to try to fill in the gap,” she writes, “and in the case of the history of Hamby's Market, a rather important one."


The writer explains that Walter Price Hamby took over the store on Highland Avenue in 1921, that he owned it until 1943, when he sold out to Herb Sachs, and that the store subsequently went to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sund.


The Sunds closed the doors on the store the end of March because the building in which it is situated is being razed and because profitable operation of a specialty grocery store is difficult today.

“As a little girl attending Havens School, and then Piedmont High,” reminisces Mrs. Gang, "I and many of my friends and acquaintances practically 'grew up in Hamby's, where Mr. Hamby used to make hundreds of sandwiches and sell them without profit (just for cost of ingredients) to several hundred students every noon.

"He also used to give a five-pound box of candy to every girl student with straight A's at the end of the year.

“During the depression, Mr. Hamby 'wrote off about 35 charges when he knew the people were having a hard time. For many years afterwards, he received part payments from these people, who appreciated his generosity at a time when they needed it.


"Before Mr. Hamby left the area, he ran a contest for a change of name. The many hundreds of people who had come to the store as children, and then had their children coming, voted to keep the name, Hamby's Market, and so it remained for 25 years.

"He received over a hundred letters from customers asking him not to leave the area, but he subsequently went to Oregon where he had, first, a cattle ranch, then a Drive-In Market, and finally, an antique business. He would still be doing the last but for a bad automobile accident; he feels 85 is too young to retire!

"I know all the above for the simple reason that I'm his daughter, and, more than most people, know how much Mr. Hamby has done for so many.

Our Oregon correspondent is the former Jeanne Hamby.

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Oakland Tribune - Tue - Apr. 1, 1969

Oakland Tribune - Mon - Mar. 9, 1970:

PEPPER BRANCH members of Children's Hospital Medical Center don't view the forthcoming Friday, the Thirteenth, as unlucky. It's the day they'll hold their Trinkets and Treasures sale in the old Hamby's Market on Highland Ave. in Piedmont.

For those of you who just came in, Hamby's is the 60-year-old institution in Piedmont that is destined for the wrecking crew next week. A new building will rise on the site of the old "corner” grocery store that isn't really on a corner (but you know what I mean), so the Pepper party will be a final fling on the premises.

Mary and Harry Sund, the proprietors of the store, gave a champagne farewell party for their customers last spring before they closed the doors on business. But this Friday's affair will be the last of the farewells to Hamby's.

In addition to being able to make a last-time tour of the premises, persons attending Friday's hospital benefit will have a chance to shop the sale of trinkets and treasures from 10 a.m.

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Piedmont’s beloved stores were demolished in 1970 to make way for the current Wells Fargo
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Safeway, 333 Highland Ave.

Built in 1940 (unverified) and 1970 when the company closed it as being too small (reason for closing is unverified).

Oakland Tribune - Wed - Jun. 23, 1954:


Police said the truck, which was loaded with meat, was parked in front of a Safeway store at 333 Highland Ave. when its engine failed, causing the air brakes to be released.

Oakland Tribune - Tue - Sep. 22, 1964:

Denied permission to erect a permanent aluminum awning in front of a food market at 333 Highland Ave.

Oakland Tribune - Tue - Sep. 22, 1964:

The wind caved in a plate glass window at the Safeway store at 333 Highland Ave, in Piedmont shopping center.

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The San Francisco Examiner -

Thu - Mar. 18, 1971

Eventually the space became a bank and then grocery stories Connvenient, Bonfare (sp?) and now Mulberry's

Mulberry's website:

In late 2004, we began our quest to open Mulberry’s, and after a rockier-than-anticipated journey, Mulberry’s opened on December 8th, 2007.

The name “Mulberry’s Market” is a tribute to Piedmont’s one and only manufacturing facility which thrived at the turn of the century: the Piedmont Ladies’ Silk Culture Club. Hungry silkworms feasted on mulberry leaves -- their only food source -- from the mulberry orchard that blanketed central Piedmont. While we don’t need to be your sole source of food, we hope Mulberry’s can keep the citizens of Piedmont as happy and well fed as those silkworms!

Grand Ave

Grand Ave

Grand Avenue Grocery Company, 1345 Grand Ave. at Linda

Built in 1914, at the former A Mon Chateau location

There are a few Tribune ads that show the address as 701 Grand Ave. Possibly two locations?

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Oakland Tribune - Sat - Mar. 6, 1926

12 years would make the start of the grocer 1914 but a "San Francisco News Letter (July-Dec. 1913)" has the Grocer listed making it possibly late of 1913 that it was opened.

Piedmont - Maps - Sanborn - Mercantile - Grand Ave - Mini golf course and grocery_edited.j

Sanborn map from the Oakland Library room - has a different version than the one in the Library of Congress. This shows a mini golf course used to be on Grand Avenue and Linda and the grocery store.

Del Monte Market, 1345 Grand Ave. at Linda


Opened in 1922, closed in 1935 (unverified)

George and Jacob Leisz ran the grocery store (unverified)

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - May. 13, 1923


Oakland Tribune - Fri - Nov. 13, 1925

Piggly Wiggly, 1335 Grand Ave. at Sunnyside



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Oakland Tribune - Sun - Dec. 9, 1928

Foundy's, 1335 Grand Ave. at Sunnyside

Unknown start date

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Jul. 16, 1967

Mrs. Robert J. Foudy cast a motherly glance toward the dozen or so picketers in her Grand Avenue store,


By now, after two hours of protest, the picketers had run through the foodstuff aisles, played London Bridge under the three checking stands and run their gaudily-colored signs under the nose of Ms. Foudy's son, Mike, 19, who was manning one of the stands.

"I don't think they can hold up much longer," laughed Mrs. Foudy, operator of Foudy's Fine Foods at Grand Avenue and Sunnyside Ave. in Piedmont for 17 years. “Their feet and throats are getting sore.",

What started the demonstration was the closing down of Foudy's Saturday. The Foudys are retiring from the grocery business and sold out to make way for a service station. But the picketers-children ranging from kindergarten age to 10 years old-saw this as the end of one of the neighborhood's great candy shops.

"Oh, they have come in here hundreds of times to buy candy. I guess they're going to miss us,” said Mrs. Foudy, as one tiny bare-footed marcher winged by with a purple-colored placard proclaiming, "What About Us School Kids? What About Our Candy?”

The kids started the march at about noon, alternating between the traditional sidewalk pounding with quick forays into the store, which already showed signs of dismantling and taking down of stock.

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Their theme was a variation on "We Love You, Conrad," from "Bye Bye, Birdie." They changed it to a chant of "We Love You, Fooudeeee!"


Adult customers coming in joshed Mrs. Foudy and Mike and kidded them about "getting those pickets out of the store."

The marchers were outside again, momentarily. "They're real sweet,” Mrs. Foudy said. "They really are.

Louis Store, 1221 Grand Ave

Before 1963 when the Louis store moved in there were residential homes on Grand Avenue. Below is an article saying Alton MacMurty lived at 1217 Grand, now the site of Ace Hardware. I haven't found what changed between 1961 and 1963 to have these homes torn down. Down the street was Foundry's and soon on its way out.

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Sept. 29, 1961:

Oakland sold a small piece of Piedmont yesterday.

Oakland bought the 24,000- square-foot lot in 1940 to build and assure maintenance of an underground flood control culvert.

Alton B. MacMurtry, of 1217 Grand Ave., Piedmont, bid $9,500 for the property. It is at the northern terminus of Valant Place, off Trestle Glen Road.

Piedmont city fathers have indicated in the past they would take over the job if Oakland sold the land.

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Oct. 6, 1963:

New Chain Store Ready in February
PIEDMONT - The 40th market in the Louis Stères chain under construction at 1221 Grand Ave.--will be completed toward the end of February.

The new store will have 12,500 square feet of floor space and a parking lot of the same size.


Oakland Tribune - Wed - Oct. 23, 1968

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Oakland Tribune - Thu - Dec. 9, 1965:


PIEDMONT-Two policemen who gingerly disarmed a crude ticking device found among the milk cartons at Louis Market, 1221 Grand Ave., last night are still skittish around explosive noises although they know now that it was not a bomb.

It had all the earmarks of a bomb when officers arrived after being summoned by Darrell Zimmerman, 3927 Barrett Ave., Richmond, the store clerk.

“It was just a prank," said Inspector Lee Lamp today following a close inspection of the device. What should have been gunpowder, had the device been a bomb, was really just talcum powder, Lamp said.

Police are investigating a group of juveniles they believe are responsible. But Patrolman Norman Carr andSgt. Donald Asher, who handled the small wooden box and timer before the analysis of its contents, haven't quite forgotten how it feels to hold a "bomb" that's apparently
ready to explode.


The San Francisco Examiner - Fri - Jun. 16, 1989

The Sacramento Bee - Sun - Jan. 20, 1985

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