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United Food Market was a small chain of grocery stores in southern Iowa 90 years ago.
In 1933, UFM opened at 107 S. Fillmore, the present location of Every Step. This location was also the site of Mount Ayr’s first chain grocery store, A&P, in 1928-29.
The new manager was Richard Barton who had previously been in charge of the meat department at the Lenox UFM. Barton was also part owner of the chain and he and his family moved to Mount Ayr the same year.
I would consider United Food Market to be Mount Ayr’s first “supermarket” because this new store offered “self-serve” shopping, a new concept.
Prior to self-serve, customers gave a list of items they desired to the clerk and the clerk would fill the order. Not only that, but refrigerated meat cases were new to grocery stores in the early 1930s UFM could boast that it was indeed, “thoroughly modern.”
On February 6, 1936, fire badly damaged the store at 107 S. Fillmore. Fortunately, The Fair Store had recently vacated a double storefront in the Timby Building, 118-120 S. Taylor Street, and United Food Market took only two days to move and open in their new and spacious quarters.
Also in 1936, meat department manager Butch Hardy made his first appearance. Mount Ayr’s old timers will recall Butch and Bob Hudson, who seems to have joined the firm in 1934.
In a surprise move, Richard Barton resigned from UFM in the summer of 1937 and opened Barton’s Food Market in the former Luce Drug Store at 100 W. Madison. Bob Hudson and Butch Hardy went with him.
By 1938, all were back working for United Food Market although Barton had been shipped off to Siberia, so to speak. It was actually Audubon.
Competition was tough in the 1930s.
Besides the United Food Market there was H. H. Wilson Grocery, Jack Sprat Food Store, Seaton’s IGA Store, the Supply Store (the forerunner of Hy-Vee), Piper’s Grocery Store, and Baldner’s Cash Market. Plus half a dozen short-lived grocery outlets.
In August of 1938, Keith Hardy and Bob Hudson bought United Food Market. This was just before bread delivery to grocery stores from bakeries in larger cities began.
Bob Hudson served his country during World War II and returned in May 1946. In August of 1946, UFM was redecorated, new shelving and lights added, and a walk-in cooler was installed for fruits and vegetables.
In 1948, a modern, 18-foot meat case was installed. Dale VanGinkel replaced Bob Hudson as manager in April 1954.
The big move came in the summer of 1954 when a new building, 36’x120’, was constructed at 107 N. Fillmore. Modern in every way, the hours were 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (til 10 on Saturdays) six days a week and closed on Sunday.
Material for the building was purchased from Dalbey Lumber with Leonard and Dewey Kinder handling the mason work. Leonard Rusk and his crew were in charge of the carpentry and Willey’s plumbing and Heating took care of their business. Grand Opening was held August 13, 1954.
With no notice I could find in the Mount Ayr Record-News, United Food Market sold out to Hy-Vee and the announcement was made September 7, 1962 coinciding with Hy-Vee’s opening in the former UFM building at 107 N. Fillmore. And just like that, United Food Market was gone.