During the 32 years I've lived in Port Washington, I've seen dozens of stores close down and/or change ownership, but it's with particular sadness that I note the closing down of the Grand Union supermarket in the Delco shopping Plaza on Shore Road.
From a personal standpoint, I've been shopping at this particular Grand Union since it opened on Shore Road some 20 years ago. And before that, I shopped at the old Port Washington Grand Union on Port Boulevard.
This is really a sad state of affairs. As I understand the situation, Stop & Shop bought the Grand Union franchise at Delco and expected to keep the place open until their proposed new store on the grounds of the former Lewis Oil Co. headquarters on Shore Road would be ready for occupancy two years from now. However, the final decision resulted in a complete shutdown. Liquidation of stock is going on as we speak.
Grand Union meant something very special to me. Most often I went there in the late evenings when it wasn't too busy and came to know most of the workers: the cashiers, stockmen, deli specialists, managers, assistant managers, et al ... and came to know all of them by name: e.g., Christina, Claudia, John (two Johns actually), Xavier, Bill, Don, Arnie, Walter, Tom, Joy, Gloria, Mike, Richie, Mark, Otto, Kaaren, "J.C.," Don, Mo (short for Mohammed,) Francesco and others. I shall miss them all. Grand Union was a great place to socialize, not only with staff, but with fellow customers as well.
I may not have been one of Grand Union's best customers, but everyone knows I was among the "regulars." I came in almost every day, or 275 to 300 times a year. The staff knew me so well that if I didn't show up for four or five days one of the managers would call me at home to check if I was okay. I did appreciate that. Then there were a few times when I entered the store, the manager would get on the P.A. and announce me!
Americans almost literally invented the supermarket. Back in 1959 when the Soviet Union's Deputy Prime Minister, Anastas Mikoyan, visited Detroit, he asked to be taken on a tour of the big supermarket in town, the Wrigley's store. He was properly impressed. Meat, for example, was wrapped in cellophane (not left to be hanging outside on poles) - everything was so neat and squeaky clean. Mikoyan reported back to the Kremlin and advised his staff to study American supermarkets so that the Soviet food distribution system could be improved. The term "supermarket" is now recognized internationally.
Finally, I wish all my friends at Grand Union all the best. They did constitute what is good about Port Washington and environs.