Corner of W. 25th and Chatham was once an important part of grocery shopping in Cleveland

(April 2023, Plain Press) From the late 1930s until the early 1960s the corner of W. 25th and Chatham was a vibrant part of the grocery shopping experience of many Clevelanders who came to shop at the West Side Market. Yarid Sahley, age 86, whose family was in the grocery business during that time period, shared some of his memories with the Plain Press.

     Yarid Sahley currently serves as an Arch Deacon at St. George Syrian Orthodox Church on W. 14th in Cleveland’s old South Side, now called the Tremont neighborhood, and sometimes passes by the corner of W. 25th and Chatham where his family members owned businesses during his childhood and young adult years.

     Yarid’s father, Roger Sahley, owned a produce store just south of Chatham, at a location that today is a parking lot. Yarid’s uncle, Farris Sahley owned a grocery store on the corner of Chatham at 2104 W. 25th. The Sahley brothers – Farris and Roger — rented their storefronts from Herman Herskovic and Gilbert Rosewater who owned a furniture store on W. 25th south of Chatham.

     The website notes that the West Side Market opened its Produce Arcade in 1914 – two years after the opening of the West Side Market. In addition to the 126 stands in the Produce Arcade, the City of Cleveland for years allowed other merchants to set up stands on the sidewalks near the market.  As a child Yarid remembers the produce merchants selling their goods on the sidewalks of W. 25th Street in the area within a couple of blocks of the West Side Market.

     These sidewalk sales included his family selling produce in front of his father’s produce store. He remembers the police coming by on occasion to tell them and other produce merchants to back up to the sidewalk and stay out of the street. He says W. 25th was very lively with people coming and going on the streetcars. He remembers women picking up live chickens to take home from the West Side Market. Yarid remembers liking to watch a merchant that ground fresh horseradish at a stand on W. 25th Street.

     When his father had the produce business, Yarid remembers going with him to the food terminal on Woodland Avenue. He recalls his father taking him to an establishment near the food terminal when he was about five or six years old. He said he remembers going up some stairs and meeting the Don of the Produce World. He sat on the Don’s lap and was given a quarter, which Yarid said was a lot of money for a child of that time. Yarid explained that the Mafia controlled the produce business during that time.

     Yarid’s Uncle Farris ran two good sized grocery stores. The Sahley Grocery Company which opened the stores in the late 1930s had one location at 2104 W. 25th (Northwest Corner of W. 25th and Chatham) and one location at 13550 Lorain Avenue. The groceries sold dry goods like coffee, sugar and flour, canned and bottled goods, boxed goods, and various soaps and cleaning products. Yarid says at the time the Sahley Grocery Company was a big store. When the stores opened, its competitors were A & P and American Meat Market.

     Yarid says that both his father and his uncle got their start in the grocery business selling produce at the Central Market which was downtown where Progressive Field is today. Yarid said other Cleveland grocers that got their start at the Central Market at that time included members of the Fazio and Rego families.

     A 1939 ad from Sahley Grocery  Company shows some of the items sold at the time with their prices: 3 LB Box of Argo Starch for 19¢; Lifebuoy Soap – 5 bars for 24¢; large bar of Ivory Soap for 7 ½¢;  Snow Drift Shortening , 3 LB Can for 43¢; Pillsbury’s Family Circle Flour, 24 ½ LB Bag for 65¢; Pure Cane Sugar, 10 LB Bag for 44¢; 2 LB can of Del Monte Coffee for 45¢; 2 LB Box of Graham Crackers 13¢; three 14 oz. bottles of Catsup 25¢; Giant Green Peas, two cans for 29¢; and Borax, twenty mule, 2 LB box for 25¢.

     The years during World War II also had an impact on the grocery business. Yarid Sahley still has a copy of a War Ration Book issued in his name in 1942 when he was a child. The book shows some of the Rationing Orders and Regulations that people had to submit to and grocery merchants like his uncle had to follow.

     Yarid said his uncle ran the Sahley Grocery at 2104 W. 25th until about 1945. He then sold it to Jim Shalala, who ran the store from about 1945 to 1947. Shalala then moved to a new location at Ridge and Pearl Road and sold the store at 2104 W. 25th back to the Sahley family. Yarid said that his father then moved from the produce store south of Chatham to run the larger grocery at 2104 W. 25th from about 1947 until maybe 1960 or 1961. At that time his father traded stores with his landlords, Herman Herskovic and Gilbert Rosewater, who moved their furniture business to 2104 W. 25th. Yarid Sahley said, “I still member Herman and Gilbert rather well. They were gentleman in all respects.” His father, Roger, opted for a smaller grocery again in his old location, south of Chatham and continued to run it for a couple of more years – till maybe 1963, says Yarid.

     Today, the former Sahley Grocery Company location at 2104 W. 25th is an empty storefront. The Maron family now owns the building, and a family member lives on the top floor. Following its time as the home of the Sahley Grocery, the building served as a furniture store for many years.  Tom Feuerman, an employee at the store from 1969 to 1979, purchased the business along with his brother Alex in 1979 and continued to run the business as W. 25th Furnishings until July of 2015 when MRN Management (the Maron family business) told the Feuerman brothers that they would not be renewing the lease.

Editor’s Note: This article contains some corrections to the timeline and succession of business owners in an article in the September 2017 Plain Press titled Building at W. 25th and Chatham once a grocery, then a furniture store, now awaiting a new tenant.

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