Dodge City Grocers 1960s and Now

A while back, I researched bakeries and grocery stores from 1920 in Dodge City to see whatever happened to the businesses and the buildings. Now I’m going to spend some time on stores many of you will remember. In 1962, there were listings for two bakeries and 20 (twenty!!!!) grocery stores. I can’t cover them all but they’re listed below for your reference:

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1962
Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1962

Central Grocery & Market – 108 E Oak Street – It’s still there! The location is directly north of the Central School playground.

The latest available in-color Sanborn Fire Insurance Map is from 1926 and it shows an empty lot. There is a 1932 Sanborn Map posted on the City of Dodge City’s website but it’s a black and white PDF. It also shows an empty lot. This building was referenced in my last post about Brundage and Brundage, which moved to 108 E Oak Street by 1942. By 1947, it was called Peterson’s Cash Market.

The county website says this structure was built in 1950. I guess it’s possible but it looks a tiny bit older. Just a smidge, though. In 1949, the store was Elliott Grocery & Market and they were hiring for a butcher but the store was available for lease to a “proven man.” In one of the ads, they actually said they preferred a man 50 to 60 years old. For whatever reason, those ads ran for a FULL YEAR.

The Advance Register, September 7, 1951

J. E. Collier operated Collier’s Grocery Mart in that spot from at least 1953 to 1957 and the address was listed as 106-108 E Oak. By 1959, it was called Central Grocery & Market.

The Advance Register, April 1, 1960

I’m not sure when our friend, Roland (Rollie) L May from the 1000 Sixth Avenue store bought the store but he owned it in 1967. For as long as I can remember, it’s been apartments and I’ve always been a fan of the curved wall.

I snapped a couple quick pics the other day:

J. S. Dillon & Sons – 313 S Second Avenue – Also still there! and 312 W Spruce Street – Demolished – Location is now the parking lot between Birds of a Feather Quilt Shop (old Centel building) and Carnegie Center for the Arts.

J. S. Dillon & Sons first came to Dodge in November of 1926 when they purchased the (Roy) Burnett Grocery at 206 Walnut Street, which was right next door to the Crown Theatre. If you look at the 1926 Sanborn Map, you’ll see the store was located basically smack dab in the middle of where the AT&T building is now on the Gunsmoke side.

The Southwest News, November 11, 1926

In May of 1928, there was a new store at 312 W Spruce Street. The Dodge City Journal moved to a new location at 314 W Spruce and the Dillon store was right next door in the same building. The 1926 Sanborn Map linked above also shows the corner of Third and Spruce, where there were previously only wood dwellings. Page 10 of the 1932 Sanborn Map shows the Spruce store but the image quality isn’t great.

The Dodge City Journal, February 13, 1930

The county website says the new store at 313 S Second Avenue was built in 1930 and that seems to be pretty close. They had definitely moved in and opened up sometime after February of 1931.

The Montezuma Press, December 31, 1931

Page 16 of the 1932 Sanborn Map shows there was a tile planing mill attached to the south end of the South Dillons. Crazy! But I guess that explains why there was originally an entrance on the north end of the building.

Tasker’s Book & Stationery Shop later moved into the old Dillons at 206 Walnut.

This is such a garbage photo but it appears to be South Dillons.

The Hutchinson News-Herald, March 31, 1949

Dillons remained at 312 W Spruce Street until at least 1962. Here’s what that spot looks like now:

By 1967, the north store had relocated to 2205 Central Avenue. I barely remember this store but it *seemed* huge compared to South Dillons.

Photo by Troy Robinson
Photo by Troy Robinson

I believe the new (current) North Dillons at 1700 N 14th Avenue was built in 1982. The old spot on Central was occupied by The Prescription Center for a long time but Anytime Fitness has now been in that location so long it’s hard to remember anything else being there.

I believe the South Dillons was closed by June of 2002 but really can’t remember exactly because I refused to believe it when I heard. I remember hearing over the years all the crap that’s been going on there and it’s…whatever.

This is how it looks now:

If you find that as depressing as I do, here’s a happy photo of the still-operational Dillons on Main Street in Great Bend. It’s almost exactly the same. It even smells the same! The only thing it’s really missing is that weird higher elevation in the rear bakery section. Otherwise, the layout is exactly as I remember it. In addition to the slightly different metal façade, the brick, tile, and stone patterns are also slightly varied. The stacked rock on the northeast end of the Dodge store was not original. There was previously another entrance there, along with a children’s entertainment area…according to my mom. I don’t remember that so it must have been remodeled before my time. The selection at the Main Street store is obviously limited by the available space but the produce selection was pretty damned good when I was there and the ice cream was fully stocked. 10/10 highly recommend!

Moving right along…

Oak Street Grocery – 205 W Oak Street – It’s still there! The location is on the south side of Oak Street between First and Second Avenues.

The 1924 county directory has the Oak Street Grocery (J. H. Clark, proprietor) listed at 206 W Oak Street but it appears that was a typo. The county website indicates the structure was built in 1910 but, as we have seen repeatedly, that is at least a decade early. The 1918 Sanborn Map has empty lots on both sides of the street and the 1926 Sanborn shows a small wood frame store with an address of 203 W Oak Street. That’s obviously the place since it’s tucked right against the alley and we have seen in previous posts how common it was for blocks to be renumbered over time.

The Dodger, December 7, 1926

Page 14 of the 1932 Sanborn Map shows what looks like the same structure with the 203 W Oak Street address.

I really haven’t found much on this store but Albert Vogel owned it from at least 1951 through 1967.

The Advance Register, September 7, 1951

It isn’t completely clear when the store closed and was converted to apartments but there was a building permit issued for a concrete porch in 1978.

Here’s how it looks now:

 

Pay Day Market – 201 S Second Avenue – The “new” building is still there. Location is currently Mi Rumba.

The first map to show a commercial building on this corner (that I’ve found) is the 1932 Sanborn Map. You will notice Willow Street was then called Maze Avenue. The street numbers in this area were a dumpster fire for decades and I’m not sure exactly when they were standardized. That building at Bridge and Maze was not on the 1926 map and since this is only B&W, I can’t tell if it was constructed from brick or wood. So I’m not sure if this is the same structure where Pay Day Market was initially located.

I don’t have the exact date when Pay Day Market opened but I know it was at 201 S Second Avenue in 1942. It seems weird to put in a grocery just a couple doors down from Sid’s Market (see Stotler’s below) that had been there for so many years. And then Dillons was just a couple doors down from that. By 1943, the address was shown as 203 S. Second. I’m amazed that Dodge had a 24-hour store in the 1940s.

The Advance Register, December 17, 1943

Anyway, the county website says the current structure was built in 1950 and that’s as good a guess as any. I think it’s interesting that their hours were actually cut back in the 1950s…but they were still open pretty late.

The Advance Register, December 25, 1953

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1960

Clyde Alvin Smith owned it at one time but I’m not exactly sure when that was. At some point, the store became Pay Day IGA and then by 1976 it was called Bob’s Pay Day IGA (Bob Pfannenstiel was the owner.) By 1977, Russ Clowdis was a co-owner of the store. Somewhere along the way, it became “Payday.”

Dodge City Daily Globe 13th Special Travelers Edition, Date Unknown

There was a second Dodge location at Comanche Plaza (Payday Plaza IGA) and Bob also owned the Payday IGA in Great Bend.

Great Bend Tribune, December 27, 1976

Remember what I said before about this store being too close to Dillons???? So it wasn’t just the south store…the north store was right across the street from the North Dillons! Was he *trying* to fail?

The Wichita Eagle, September 30, 1992
The Wichita Eagle, October 3, 1992
The Wichita Eagle, October 4, 1992

Personally, I blame those weird fold-down carts. Here’s how the store looks now:

Stotlers IGA Foodliner – 213 South Second Avenue – Demolished – Location is a couple doors south of Mi Rumba.

Page 16 of the 1932 Sanborn Map shows a dwelling at this address.

Like a lot of the buildings in that area, it appeared to have been built in the mid-1930s. I don’t know when it became a grocery store but in 1942, it was Sid’s Stop & Shop Market. By 1947, it was just Sid’s Market.

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1947, Published by the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce

Sid’s also had a Cafe but I believe both closed around 1954.

Stotler’s Grocery, Inc. was formed in April of 1955 and set up shop in the former Sid’s Market. As I mentioned above, this was a very busy area for grocery stores with Pay Day Market just a couple doors to the north, South Dillons a block south, and the old Moseley’s basically across the street where the liquor store is now. Stotler’s also had a location for a while at 1011 W Chestnut Street, which was the old West Side Market.

This is the old Sid’s/Stotler’s spot:

If you look at the Google Maps Street View, you can use the glitches to see the old building. This is one of my favorite things about Google. Here’s the Street View from 2007:

The later Stotler’s building was located at 905 S Second Avenue and the county shows it was constructed in 1965. One of my uncles worked in the meat department when he was in high school. There were a couple gas pumps out front and a liquor store at the south end of the building. It seems like the whole store was carpeted (red and black?) and I think it only had two checkout lanes. But I can’t recall a time when they were both open. I remember how it smelled but there’s no way I can describe it other than to say it was different from Dillons…but not in a bad way. Just different.

There was another Stotler’s store in Lewis but other than a robbery in the 1970s, I don’t know anything about it. It seems like the Dodge store also closed in the early 1990s but I really can’t remember for sure.

Here’s how the final Stotler’s location looks now:

If you look at the Street View, you can still see where the pumps were out in front.

Stramel Grocery – 610 Sunnyside Avenue – It’s still there! Location is on the east side of the street just south of the curve between Market Street and Beeson Road.

The only reason I know about this one is because my grandmother told me when I was very young that it had once been a grocery store. I just couldn’t imagine it. But this was circa 1980 and it was bright white with that railing that seemed very fancy at the time. I mean, I was five!

The county website shows the structure was built in 1955 but I’m calling that myth busted. That may have been when the garage in back was built! In addition to the store, Andrew Stramel also had a trailer court at that address. That may have come later, though…I’m just not sure. It was at the east end of the long driveway, if I am remembering the story correctly.

The Advance Register September 7, 1951

I don’t know when they closed but my mom doesn’t remember the home ever being a grocery so it must have been shortly after 1962. It looks like Andrew Stramel transferred his membership from the Dodge City Council (possibly to Wright) in 1963 so that fits. There was no listing for Stramel Grocery in 1967.

By 1968, Mrs. H. Moore lived there. The county doesn’t list dates on building permits that would say when it was rearranged into a duplex.

Here’s how it looks now:

The railing that I thought was so neat has been all but dismantled. It actually went up on the roof like a real balcony back in the day.

That’s it! That’s the story. It’s kind of amazing that Dodge once had a Piggly Wiggly, Jack and Jill, and Safeway. I once spent some time learning about small-town grocers and franchise issues…hoo boy. It’s a protectionist racket! Maybe another day…

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