When Mom & Pop Stores Ruled

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The former Marble Palace Grocery and Market building (later known as Prescott Foods), 3587 NE Prescott, has recently been restored and is now alive and well as an art studio.

While looking into the history of the Wilshire Market building, we’ve become interested in the grocery and market world of years gone past.

In a day when large supermarkets did not exist, mom-and-pop stores were everywhere on the eastside. So were butcher shops, bakeries, and candy stores. A quick look at Portland’s business directory for 1931 lists more than 750 individual grocery stores, most of them owned and operated by families.

Here in the Alameda Park Addition, commercial development was prohibited. But just beyond our borders, small business was booming.

In past posts here on the blog, we’ve explored a few of those places, including Hunderups, at NE 29th and Prescott (today’s Food King Market); Alameda Grocery (today’s corner of NE 24th and Fremont); Davis Dairy Store at NE 30th and Killingsworth; and Grant Park Grocery at NE 33rd and Knott.

Here’s a look at three more markets, all of them clustered close together near NE 33rd and Prescott. We’re interested in hearing memories about these places or finding photos from the past. Can you help?


3133 NE Prescott (Bradford’s Market; Serv-Us Grocery)

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Today it’s the Community Health Center, an acupuncture and Chinese medicine office, but it started out as a store. Ever noticed the parking lot just west of the building, making it perfect for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread on the way home? Built in 1921 as a grocery, this building was known for most of its life as Bradford’s Market, operated by Paul and Bernice Bradford from the mid-1920s until the mid-1950s. The Bradfords lived in Alameda at NE 30th and Mason (nice commute). Following its long run as Bradford’s, the store was known briefly as the Serv-Us Grocery, owned by Roy and Hazel Turnbaugh. From the early 1960s until the late 1970s, the building was the dental office of Dr. Herman Reisbick. Most recently, before becoming an acupuncture office, it’s been a barber shop and hair salon.


3587 NE Prescott (Marble Palace Grocery; Prescott Foods)

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This is a notable building today with its fresh coat of black paint and recent makeover as an arts studio (Affiche Studio). And it’s been memorable in the recent past, as an upholstery business with a bright blue paint job.

This handsome one-story brick structure was built in 1924 by Joe Dellasin, and was operated in its early years as the Marble Palace Grocery and Market by George A. Peters, who owned another market by the same name near NE 15th and Fremont. Several proprietors ran it through the 1930s and 1940s before it became Prescott Foods, the name that stuck with the business through multiple mom-and-pop owners up until the mid 1980s (Loomis, Breshears, Dickerman, Patrick and Wallis). Grace and Earl Dickerman ran the business from 1948 until 1966 when they sold it and bought a small hardware store on SE Hawthorne. By 1985 the building had succumbed to the changing grocery shopping patterns of nearby residents (like most other small neighborhood groceries), and it became an upholstery shop, which it served as until 2012 when Affiche Studios moved in and fixed it up.


4518 NE 32nd Ave. (Thirty Second Street Grocery; Smith’s Cash Grocery)

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This one is an oldie: 1910. We haven’t yet been able to determine its business name prior to 1930, but by then it was known as Thirty Second Street Grocery, operated by Henry C. Parker. In the 1930s, it was owned by the Skoog family, which owned and operated other markets in Portland. In 1940, it was well established as Smith’s Cash Grocery, a name that stuck into the late 1950s.

One local resident remembers this place in the 1950s as Doc’s Market, and can recall going in as a very young person saying “Hi Doc!” to the shopkeeper (who he remembers as having a flat-top haircut and a big smile). Grove M. Smith was the proprietor all those years, and probably was the “Doc” behind the counter.

City directories show the building as being vacant from the 1960s until recently, when it was transformed into an arts studio called FalseFront Studio.

We’d love to learn more about these buildings, see pictures of their earlier selves, or connect with family members of past owners. We’ll share what we learn, and will keep plugging along with research on several other storefronts nearby.

7 responses

  1. I love your stories and pictures and look forward to them. I’ve shared many of them with my cousins who grew up in Portland and now live in other states and they pass them on to other relatives. Portland neighborhoods have such a rich history and it’s so nice to come across a site that values it as much as you do. Thank you so much for all your hard work. It is sincerely appreciated
    Roberta Herget
    NE Portland

    • Thank you, Roberta. You’ve made my day. I appreciate knowing that others enjoy exploring the rich history of our neighborhoods too, as much as I enjoy sleuthing it out.

  2. Hi Doug!

    I was wondering what business is going in at Alameda and Fremont on Fremont? How do you find out that kind of info. Thank you so much for your posts! They are super informative. I used to be on the board and had the last name Hall.

    Hope you are well. Cheers,

    Christine Clancy MSW, NTP Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

  3. Thank you Doug for these articles and all the information on the history of these buildings. I live in the Concordia neighborhood and often pass these buildings during my walks and have wondered what they used to be. It is nice to see that they are being “repurposed” and not torn down.

    There is a building at 23rd and Wygant that recently sold but so far there has been no building activity. Another one – also recently sold – is at 27th and Going and looks like it is part store & part house.

    Jeanie Golino

    • Thanks Jeanie. I’m glad you enjoyed the insights about our neighborhood’s former storefronts. I’m working on a detailed post about the store at 27th and Going and will add the one on 23rd and Wygant to the list of future topics for consideration.

  4. Jan Caudy Tallman, who grew up at 35thPlace (old name Marguerite) and Prescott, told me that she remembered going to the grocery at 36th and Prescott with her granddad in the early 1930s. She said it the store was owned by a man from Holland named VanWee. She recalled him sitting with his feet propped on the wood stove, carving wooden shoes, until customers arrived.

    • Hello Susan! Thank you for sharing this great memory. Would love to catch other insights from Jan. I’ve been corresponding with the daughter of Earl and Grace Dickerman who ran Prescott Foods from 1948 until the early 1960, and she has shared many stories of that grocery store, which I hope to share here in the near future.

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