Map out your marketing strategy with this sketch of the old 12th Street Market in Erie, PA. Many local grocers, butchers, fruit dealers and florists got their start in this block-long, enclosed market, which proved to be a good investment for many years.
Dave Warren, whose father Robert was the manager of the Modern Grocery until 1949, was kind enough to provide a sketch of the interior of the 12th St. Market. "For 16 years, the 12th St. Market, its variety of merchants, smells, and occasional sounds from the second floor bowling alley and roller-skating rink were a wonderful part of my growing up," said Dave.
"As a child, I was fascinated with John Sperides' candy stall. In his kitchen he had hooks for pulling taffy for Christmas candy canes, and vats of chocolate. Mr. Sperides didn't show up for two days, which was very unusual. Dad went to his home, where he lived alone, and found him dead. The only thing I can remember occurring in his vacated stall was a visit from "the real" Aunt Jemima, spending a day making free pancakes," said Dave. Mr. Sperides passed away in March of 1947.
"I remember during WWII, when a shipment of coffee arrived late in the day, we would spend a few hours after closing pre-grinding the bags of beans, in preparation for the lines of people coming in the morning for that scarce and rationed item. Customers could enter through doors on French Street, East 12th or East 13th St. Vendors received shipments on the Commerce St. side and kept their stock farm-fresh. Cars were parked in a lot in the lower level. Some people remember their mothers buying live chickens in the southwest corner of the market.
The 12th Street Market opened around 1927 and operated until it was destroyed by fire in 1951. Familiar vendors include Scolio and Del Porto (fruit); Urbaniak Brothers, Rudy Voss and Joyce Bros. (meat); Picardo (horse radish) and the Balkan Baking Co.
People came from all around the city to shop at the 12th Street Market. They also came in droves to the market crash when it was hit by lightning. Eleven companies fought the consuming fire. "Twelfth St. was jammed with people, almost from curb to curb, as many clubs emptied of their members, late movies had just ended." Daylight brought even more people to the scene. "About 15 policemen were on duty Sunday, keeping thousands of curious Erieites out of the gutted structure. Traffic on 12th St. was in a continual snarl due to motorists who drove by to see the burned-out shell of a building" -Erie Dispatch, April 30, 1951.
Enjoy more fascinating facts about Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie