The Grocery Store at the Corner of Lindenwold and Greenwood Avenues

Before there was Acme and the Weavers Way Co-op, there was a grocery store located on the corner of Lindenwold and Greenwood Avenues that was considered a favorite spot in the Ambler community.


There were various owners of the grocery store until the chain officially ended in the late 1970s. But first, let's travel back in time to how these corner stores came about from the city of Philadelphia to its suburbs.

The Growth of Grocery Stores from Philly


During the 19th century, there was the Industrial Revolution where technological advances began to develop in cities like Philadelphia. And since Philadelphia became a commercial center, suburbs surrounding the city demanded new opportunities for shopping and entertainment. This began the expansion of both not only Philly's suburbs but also America's suburbs.


Fun Fact #1: During the 19th century, Philadelphia was known as the "Workshop of the World."


Population played a huge part of the suburban expansion away from urban environments. The population in the 1830s peaked in the city until people like the upper and middle class decided to spread out in all directions.


With people moving away to the suburbs, they created opportunities to start their businesses for convenience to prevent traveling all the way to the city to buy goods, especially for groceries.


Grocery shopping is very, and still is, essential for families. People back then shop for groceries on a daily basis to buy fresh and dry goods. The problems families faced were the high expenses of basic food and access to fresh meat, fish, diary products, and produce. The solution that was made for these businesses was the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. They used cost-saving tactics that grocers weren't able to do.

When scanning through the Ambler Gazette archives, I see a whole variety of ads from different grocers in Ambler. But only one stood out the most out of the rest. That is the one located on the corner of Lindenwold and Greenwood Avenues. It was the architecture that stood out to me the most.


It's unknown when the grocery store was first established, but based on context clues from the Ambler Gazette archives and knowing that Ambler was incorporated in 1888, I would assume this grocery corner store was established around the 1890s.


Below are some news clippings of the grocery store of Lindenwold and Greenwood Avenues, providing some information about the place and its owners overtime.

  • Possible first owner: Richard L. Tyson

The Former Tyson Store (right side of photo); c. 1900
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (May 25, 1905): Page 5
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (March 16, 1917): Page 1


Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (October 4, 1906): Page 3








  • Successor: Charles E. Ridgway & Sons

Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 26; A. H. Mueller, Publisher
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (April 28, 1910): Page 6



Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (April 11, 1918): Page 2



  • Successor: J.B. Neely & Co.

Clipping from Ambler Gazette (December 11, 1919): Page 6
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (January 15, 1920): Page 3
"The store's clientele was mainly North Ambler's upper-middle-class WASP families, and whenever its fruits exhibited even a slight sign of spoilage, King & Betz set those pieces in crates outside the store. It was the heart of the Great Depression, and our parents could rarely afford to buy fresh produce, so we kids really appreciated those crates of spoiled fruits, picking out an orange, banana, or handful of grapes for our lunch bags."

- Martin Kilson, A Black Intellectual's Odyssey (2021)

Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (June 18, 1936): Page 6
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (June 27, 1929): Page 12
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (December 28, 1933): Page 6
Google Satellite Plan View: 216 Lindenwold Ave, Ambler, PA 19002
Google Satellite Birdseye View: Looking South
Front Facade; Source: Google Maps
Up close of the "King and Betz" sign; Source Google Maps

Bibliography


Alpert, Lynn Miriam. "Philadelphia Corner Stores: Their History, Use, and Preservation." Masters Thesis. University of Pennsylvania, 2012: 17-35. https://repository.upenn.edu/hp_theses/184/.


“Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." DaftLogic. Accessed August 15, 2021. https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.


Quattrone, Frank D. Ambler. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004): 70.


"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed April 23, 2021. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.


#pahistory #ambler #grocerystore #cornerstore #lindenwoldavenue #historicpreservation #architecture #archaeology

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