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April 17, 1992 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-17

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Staff Writer


t isn't the matzah Jim
Hiller remembers best
when he thinks of Pass-
overs of his childhood.
It's the wine. He hated it.
"I remember taking sip
after sip of that horrible,
syrupy, sweet wine," said
Mr. Hiller, whose father,
Sidney, founded the first
Shopping Center Market
on Michigan Avenue in
Detroit in 1945.
Because of Mr. Hiller's
strong dislike of the tradi-
tional Passover wine, he
makes sure Shopping
Center shelves are stocked
with several varieties of
kosher for Passover wines.
He also makes sure that
employees at certain stores
clear half an aisle and
scrub and line the shelves
for hundreds of Passover
"Passover is not an after-
thought because we
observe it too," Mr. Hiller
Such Passover prepara-
tion probably wouldn't
have surprised the late
Abner Wolf, a Detroit food
wholesaler credited with
bringing many noted
names into a business at
one time dominated by
Detroit Jewish families.
Yet today, as the in-
dustry continues to con-
solidate from a business
largely controlled by mom-
and-pop stores to one suc-
ceeded by large national
chains, the days of the in-
dependent Jewish grocer
here may be nearing an
Aside from the Hillers'
six upscale Shopping

"Jewish families were
the backbone of the grocery
business here," Mr. Page
Meanwhile, ACF-
Wrigley's history includes
several name changes. In
1960, ACF-Wrigley became
Allied Supermarkets, Inc.,
and it acquired other gro-
cery businesses throughout
the country. Mr. Page serv-
ed on the corporation's
board of directors.
Allied purchased Great
Scott! from Nate Fink in
1976. Yet Allied also had
made some risky in-
vestments, accumulating
great debt. Two years after
buying Great Scott!, Allied
filed for Chapter 11 protec-
tion with the United States
0 Bankruptcy Court.
Allied successfully reor-
ganized in 1981, keeping
This replica of the Dexter-Davison logo still remains in the Oak Park Farmer Jack store.
under its umbrella the
Abner Wolf Co. and Great
Center Markets and Danny
Nate Fink, who worked for
days at the law firm, ex-
Scott!. In 1987, Allied merg-
Knopper's 10 Danny's
Mr. Wolf before he founded
plained the story of the
ed with Vons, a California
(smaller stores on the far
Great Scott! in the 1950s.
mergers and acquisitions of
west and east sides of
"I started with him, and
several of the Jewish-owned
Mr. Page and a group of
town), three national
most Jewish people started
investors then formed a
chains prevail: A & P,
with him."
Consolidation in the
new corporation,
Most of the originals have
Kroger and Meijer. Each is
Detroit market began in
Meadowdale Foods, which
sold or folded. Chatham,
run by a corporation with
1955, when a deal was
purchased Great Scott! and
owned by the Weisberg fami-
no Jewish executives at the
made between a group of
the Abner Wolf Co.
ly, filed for bankruptcy in
small, privately owned, in-
Meadowdale sold Great
the early 1980s, selling off
It wasn't always this
dependent grocery stores
Scott! to Kroger and the
their stores to some of the
way. First came the push-
which turned the com-
Abner Wolf Co. to an af-
chains and to existing
carts, then concession
panies into a large, public-
filiate wholesaler in 1990.
stands and finally the
ly traded corporation. The
Entree into the food
The Cottlers, of Dexter-
corporate name became
world was not uncommon
After World War I, when
Davison, in the late 1960s
ACF-Wrigley Stores Inc.
after Jews immigrated to
independent grocery stores
sold the business to the
Among those businesses
the United States from
started popping up
Bormans of Farmer Jack,
joining ACF-Wrigley were
Eastern Europe. According
throughout the country,
Big Bear Market, one of
which started as Food Fair.
to David Litwak, research
Abner Wolf helped finance
In 1989, Paul Borman sold
the earliest stores owned
director for the trade
many of the now-defunct
to A & P the 79-store chain
by the Shayes; Wrigley,
publication Supermarket
Jewish-owned grocery
founded by his father and
owned by the Luries; and
Business, the food industry
chains. Among them were
uncle in 1927.
Charlie Grossberg's Packer
tends to be one of the first
Wrigley, Packer, Big Bear
Honigman attorney
businesses attractive to
and Great Scott!.
David Page, who started
Abner Wolf's wholesale
"He had vision, foresight,
doing legal work for some
operation was included in
"Jewish immigration
grocery stores in his early
stamina and brains," said
this deal.
was big the same time the

Jewish Grocers Check Out Of The Business


FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 1992


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